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Physics 137A (lectures 1&3, Fall 2014): Homework #10

A.E. Charman
Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley

(Dated: 11/08/2014; DUE 11/14/2014)

Solutions to all required (i.e., non-practice) problems are due in the Physics 137A (lectures 1&3)
box in the Physics Department Reading Room (251 LeConte) before 6 pm on FRIDAY,
November 14, 2014. Remember that you will receive points based on overall completeness,
and also for a subset of problems that will be holistically graded in detail based on content,
presentation, and analysis. Problems or parts of problems marked [PRACTICE] will not be
graded, but are suggested for extra exploration or practice if you wish. A request to show
or prove a result is meant to elicit the sort of argument that would satisfy a physicist, not
necessarily a professional mathematiciancogent, reasonably clear in its logical direction, but not
necessarily completely rigorous and explicit in all of its mathematical steps.

I. ANNOUNCEMENTS

Andys office hours this coming week will be: Wednesday 34 pm, Thursday 4:305:30 pm, and Friday
23 pm, or by appointment.
Really start thinking about completing an enrichment activity....
Please respond the bSpace poll to be released on Monday, regarding availability for our second midterm.
Required:

Finish Townsend: Chapter 7. Read Townsend, Chapter 9.

Recommended:

Suggested:

III. PROBLEMS [WEIGHT = 110]

Some questions focusing on simple harmonic oscillators, coherent states, and multi-dimensional problems....

1. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 7.3

2. Townsend, Problem 7.7
3. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 7.8
4. Townsend, Problem 7.9
5. Townsend, Problem 7.14

Electronic

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6. Hermite Polynomials
Hermite polynomials may be defined via the generating function:
2

G(, s) = es

+2s

hn ()

sn
,
n!

which is valid for all complex and s, athough we will only need to use real-valued arguments.

n

for all n = 0, 1, 2, . . . .
(a) Show that hn () = s
n G(, s)
s=0
(b) By differentiating G(, s) with respect to , show that h0n () = 2n hn1 ().
(c) By differentiating G(, s) with respect to s, show that the Hermite polynomials satisfy the recurrence
relation: hn+1 () = 2 hn () 2n hn1 ().
(d) Combining these results, show that the Hermite polynomials satisfy the differential equation
h00n () 2 h0n () + 2n hn () = 0
(e) Taylor expand the generating function to obtain explicit expressions for the first three Hermite
polynomials: h0 (), h1 (), and h2 ().
d
(f ) Using the above results, show that the Hermite polynomials can be written as hn () = 2 d
for all n = 0, 1, 2, . . . .

n

1,

(g) [PRACTICE] Use induction and the recurrence relation to show that
n
b2c

hn () = n!

X
k=0

(1)k
(2)n2k ,
k!(n 2k)!

where the b n2 c is the largest integer less than or equal to n/2 equal to n/2 if n is even, or (n 1)/2
if n is odd.
2

(h) Let F (, s) = G(, s) e = e(s) . Show that

s F (, s)

=
F (, s). By differentiating n times

then setting s = 0, establish the Rodrigues formula: hn () = (1)n e+

(i) Establish the orthogonality relation :

+
R

dn 2
.
d n e

and integration by parts.

(j) [PRACTICE] By integrating F (, s) G(, s) with respect to and then Taylor expanding with respect
+
R

2
to s, Establish the normalization condition:
d hn () hn () e = 2n n!.

(k) [PRACTICE] By Fourier transforming the generating function, show that

+
Z
1 2
1 2
d eik e 2 hn () = (i)n e 2 k hn (k),

1
2

meaning the functions e 2 hn () are eigenfunctions of the unitary operator representing the Fourier
transform.

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7. Here we will verify the equivalence of the stationary states |ni found by Diracs operator method and
those found in the position basis by the standard series method:
(a) Using a |0i = 0 and h0|0i = 1, find the normalized ground state wavefunction 0 (x) = hx|0i
(b) Using |ni = 1n! (a )n |0i, use the properties of the Hermite polynomials to verify that the stationarystate wavefunctions n (x) = hx|ni will coincide with those established by the standard method.
HINT: first work with the scaled position and scaled derivative

d
d ,

then convert to x at the end.

8. [PRACTICE] Suppose B(x, p) is any observable associated with a spinless particle of mass m moving
in one spatial dimension. As such, it must be some function of the position and momentum observables.
(a) Show that if both [x, B] = 0 and [p, B] = 0, then B = I. That is, any operator which commutes
with both position and momentum must be a constant.
Consider any closed subspace S H of the full Hilbert space. Let P = P = P 2 be the Hermitian
projection into this subspace.
For any choice of positive natural frequency > 0, we can define the raising operator a and the lowering
operator a in the usual way.


(b) Show that if S is invariant under the action of both a and a , then [a, P ] = a , P = 0.
(c) If |ni are the normalized eigenstates of the number operator N = a a, show that (i) they are

P
non-degenerate, and (ii) that
|nihn| = I.
n=0

9. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 7.16. (Here Townsend means actual, normalizable eigenstates).
10. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 7.17
11. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 7.18
12. Townsend, Problem 7.22
13. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 7.23

14. [PRACTICE] A very useful operator relation is the zipper identity

esA BesA = B + s[A, B] +

s2
2! [A, [A, B]]

s3
3! [A, [A, [A, B]]]

+ ...

where A and B are any linear operators, and s is any real parameter.
(a) Prove this relation by showing that the left hand side and right hand side satisfy the same first-order,
operator-valued differential equation in the independent variable s, and also the same initial condition
at s = 0.
Another useful operator identity is a special case of the so-called Zassenhaus formula. Suppose both the
operator A and the operator B commute with their own commutator: [A, [A, B]] = 0 and [B, [A, B]] = 0.
Then
es(A+B) = esA esB e

s2
2

[A,B]

(b) Prove this result using the results of part (a) and a similar trick involving a differential equation.

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Unbounded operators like x
and p play an essential role in quantum mechanics in infinite-dimensional
Hilbert spaces, but unfortunately do not alway share the nice mathematical properties of bounded
operators. One way to tidy things up is to work with the position-space translation operator T (a) =
i

e ~ ap and the momentum-space translation operator G(b) = e+ ~ bx , which are well-behaved unitary
operators for all real values for the shift a or the boost b.
(c) Find the commutation relation for such operators. These relations are known as the Wely form of
the canonical commutation relations.
HINT: use the previous results.
(d) Simplify the transformed operators T (a) x
T (a) and G(b) p G(b)
HINT: also use the previous results.
In quantum optics and elsewhere, another very useful unitary operator is the so-called phase-space
displacement operator
D() = ea

for any complex-valued parameter . As we will see, it can translate coherent states simultaneously in
position and momentum.
(e) Show that D() is unitary
(f ) Simplify the transformed lowering operator D() a
D() and the transformed raising operator

D() a
D() .

(g) Show that D() = ea e a e||

(h) Show that D() |0i = |i. That is, any coherent state can be thought of as a displaced ground state.

15. When a gamma ray of energy E is emitted from the nucleus of an isolated radioactive atom, it
the photon carries away a momentum of magnitude p = E /c, and the atom recoils with a momentum
p2

equal in magnitude but opposite in direction. If the atom has mass M , this implies a recoil energy 2M
,
which is self-consistently deducted from the energy that the gamma ray would have possessed if the
nucleus were infinitely massive.

However, if the atom is bound in a macroscopic crystalline solid, there is some probability that the
gamma ray is emitted with essentially the maximum possible energy. This recoilless process is known
as the M
ossbauer effect , and since its discovery in 1958, has been exploited in spectroscopy and also
famously used for the precision measurements of the gravitational redshift predicted by general relativity.
We can give an approximate treatment of the the Mossbauer effect as follows:
(i) approximate the binding of the atom in the solid by a harmonic oscillator potential with resonant
frequency 0 ;
(ii) assume the atom starts in its motional ground state (zero-point energy only);
(iii) Assume that the effect of the gamma ray emission is to simply displace the momentum of the atom
by an amount p ;
(iv) Decompose the resulting state in terms of a superposition of energy eigenstates;
(v) Calculate the probability for recoilless emission, in terms of the energy parameters E , M c2 , ~0 .
(Effectively, the recoil momentum is shared by the entire crystal, which is very massive by atomic
standards).

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16. For a particle of mass m moving in two dimensions, labeled by Cartesian coordinates x and y:
(a) Characterize all linear coordinate transformations of the form
  
 
q1
Axx Axy x
=
q2
Ayx Ayy y
which preserve Hermiticity,
q1 = q1
q2 = q2
p1 = p1
p2 = p2 ,
and preserve the canonical commutations relations, meaning
[q1 , p1 ] = [x, px ] = i~
[q2 , p2 ] = [y, py ] = i~
[q1 , p2 ] = [x, py ] = 0
[q2 , p1 ] = [y, px ] = 0
[q1 , q2 ] = [x, y] = 0
[p1 , p2 ] = [px , py ] = 0
(b) Supposing a particle of mass m moves in two dimensions subject to the potential energy
V (x, y) = 12 m 2 (10x2 + 12xy + 10y 2 ),
find the allowed energy levels and determine the degeneracy of each level.

17. An ion of mass m and charge q moves along the x axis while bound to a very large, immobile
molecule by an Harmonic potential energy V (x) = 21 m 2 x2 . Then, an external uniform electric field
direction is turned on. Find the energy levels associated with the center-of-mass
E pointing in the +x
motion of the ion in the presence of the original binding potential and the external electric field.

18. [PRACTICE] Townsend, Problem 9.2

6

Some students have asked, so let us try to summarize various rules regarding common boundary conditions for the one-dimensional, position-space, time-independent Schrodinger equation:
2

~
2m
00 (x) + V (x) (x) = E (x).

Boundary conditions are often regarded as somehow more mundane and less interesting that the underlying differential equation(s), but they are of course essential in determining actual physically-meaningful
solutions. The time-dependent Schrrodinger equation adds an additional challenge, as it is constitutes
an eigenvalue problem, by which we have to simultaneously and self-consistently find an eigenvalue E
for which a solution to the differential equation with otherwise over-determined boundary conditions is
even possible.
For any fixed value of E, mathematically-speaking the Schrodinger equation consists of a second-order,
linear, ordinary differential equation in the independent variable x. If V (x) is well-behaved, then standard
existence and uniqueness theorems should guarantee a unique solution given prescribed values of (x)
and 0 (x) at one point, or values of (x) at two distinct points. But such a solution may not satisfy all
of the requirements for a physically meaningful solution (i.e., further boundary conditions), unless E is
an eigenvalue (in the case of bound states) or at least a generalized eigenvalue (in the case of scattering
states).

A. Boundary Conditions for Bound States

Any bound state (x) corresponds to an actual (normalizable) eigenfunction of the Hamiltonian H(x, p)
in the appropriate Hilbert space, expressed in terms of the generalized position eigenbasis.

1. Behavior at Infinity

+
Z
0<
dx |(x)|2 < ,

(3)

implying at minimum that

lim (x) = 0,

(4)

lim 0 (x) = 0,

(5)

as well as
x

and so forth. Furthermore, the decay to zero must occur sufficiently rapidly (in space) so that the
2
normalization integral can converge. In addition, |(x)| must not have any non-integrable singularities
at interior points.

2. Shooting Methods

In numerical approximation, a so-called shooting method is often employed in order to self-consistently

find a stationary-state wavefunction and associated eigenvalue. Suppose for simplicity that the potential

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energy is an even function of position, V (x) = V (x), so that energy eigenstates can be assumed to
have definite parity.
If we are seeking an even bound state (e.g., the ground state), then, starting with an initial guess for E,
and the initial conditions (0) = A 6= 0, 0 (0) = 0 (for an arbitrary constant A), we can then uniquely
integrate (numerically) rightward to obtain (x) out to some suitably large x > 0. If the guessed energy
E is not an eigenvalue, then we will eventually find that (x) as x +, where the asymptotic
sign of (+) flips if the adopted value of E crosses an eigenvalue. To narrow in on E, we can adjust
E and re-integrate until it looks like lim (x) = 0 to within some numerical tolerance. The closer is E
x
to an actual eigenvalue, the slower the divergence, so in order to improve the accuracy with which we
can approximate E, we have to integrate to larger and larger positions x.
For odd bound state satisfying (x) = (x), we can use the same technique, only starting from
(0) = 0 and 0 (0) = A0 6= 0. If the wavefunction lacks symmetry under parity inversion, then we have
to start at very negative x, taking both (x) and 0 (x) to be close to zero, then integrate forward to
very large x to check for suitable fall-off.

3. Interior Boundary Conditions at Singular or Discontinuous Points of the Potential

Isolated discontinuities or singularities in V (x) must lead to compensating discontinuities in (x) or its
derivatives if the Schr
odinger equation is to be satisfied.
If for example, (x) is discontinuous at some x = a, then its first derivative 0 (x) will possess a Dirac
delta function singularity (x a), and its second derivative 00 (x) will include a term proportional to
d
the derivative of a delta function 0 (x a) = dx
(x a). Unless V (x) also includes such a term, the
Schr
odinger equation cannot be satisfied. (Finding the eigenstates of the 0 (x) potential leads to some
subtleties which still generate discussion in the literature. To handle this singular potential properly, we
really need to use some fancy functional analysis, specifically the notion of self-adjoint extensions of the
momentum operator).
If (x) is continuous but 0 (x) is discontinuous at some point x = a, then 00 (x) will include a term
proportional to a delta function, and the potential energy V (x) will include a corresponding impulsive,
or point interaction term. Specifically, the potential energy will be of the form:
V (x) = V0 ` (x a) + V1 (x),

(6)

where V0 ` is some constant, and V1 (x) is regular at x = a. Conversely, if V (x) includes a Dirac delta
function, then there must be a corresponding kink in (x) that is, a jump discontinuity in 0 (x), to
balance the impulsive piece of the potential in the Schrodinger equation. The jump in the value of the
derivative can be inferred by integrating the Schrodinger equation over a short interval a  x a + 
bracketing the location of the impulsive term in the potential, then taking the limit as  0+ :

lim

0+

~
2m

a+
a+
a+

Z
Z
Z

00
dx (x) +
dx V0 ` (x a) (x) +
dx V1 (x) E (x) = 0,

a

a

(7)

a

which simplifies to:

 0 +

~
2m
(a ) 0 (a ) + V0 ` (a) = 0,

(8)

where 0 (a ) denotes the values of of the derivative 0 (x) just to the the left and right of the kink.
And If (x) and 0 (x) are both continuous, but 00 (x) is discontinuous at some point x = a, then there
must be a jump discontinuity in V (x) at the same point, and conversely. We can use these conclusions
in determining the stationary states for Manhattan skyline, or piecewise-constant, potentials, using
transfer matrices.

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4. Rigid Walls

A perfectly rigid wall corresponds to a region of the potential where the potential is infinitely high
(V (x) = +) over some finite interval. We can see that in order for (x) to remain regular for a
finite value of E, (x) must in fact vanish inside the wall in order to cancel the divergent potential
V (x). Another way to see this is to consider the limit of a finite flat-top potential barrier. To remain
normalized, the only possibility for the wave function within the barrier is

1
lim A e ~ 2m(V E) |xc| = 0,
(9)
V

while from continuity of the wavefunction, we may infer that (x) vanishes at the exterior edges of any
rigid wall as well.

B. Scattering States

Scattering states are generalized eigenstates of the Hamiltonian, which belong to the rigged Hilbert space
but not to the Hilbert space proper, because they are not square-integrable. Generically, the allowed
generalized energy eigenvalues E will cover a continuous interval or intervals, and unlike the bound-state
case, we can usually choose E prior to determining the wavefunction.
For such unnormalizable states, it does not make sense to talk about the absolute probability density,
but we can still use the wave-function to assess relative probabilities, and more usefully in scattering,
relative probability current densities.
But the wavefunction remains regular locally, so our above considerations for behavior at points of
discontinuity or singularity of the potential apply to the scattering states as well, as does the requirement
that the wavefunction vanish within any infinitely rigid wall.
Of course, we do not, and in general cannot, require fall-off at infinity (at least not in both directions).
Commonly, the potential is localized in the sense that it vanishes (or at least approaches some constant
values) as |x| . In such cases the wavefunction will be asymptotically free, and usually the particles
are assumed to be incident from only one direction, and we can unambiguously decompose the wave
function at remote positions into incident, reflected, and transmitted waves.