An intuitive approach to the coherent and

squeezed states of the quantum harmonic
oscillator (QHO)

Spiros Konstantogiannis
Physicist, M.Sc.
Copyright © 2017 by Spiros Konstantogiannis. All rights reserved. No part of this
eBook may be reproduced, in any form or by any means, without the express written
permission of the writer.

2
Contents
An intuitive approach to the coherent and squeezed states of the quantum harmonic
oscillator (QHO)........................................................................................................ 1
Contents .................................................................................................................... 3
Preface ...................................................................................................................... 4
I. Preliminaries .......................................................................................................... 5
Applying a spatial translation to the ground state of the quantum harmonic
oscillator (QHO)................................................................................................ 5
More on spatial translation operators ................................................................13
Momentum translation operators.......................................................................21
The combined action of a spatial and a momentum translation operator ............29
Returning back to the QHO – The displacement operator..................................31
II. The coherent states of the QHO ...........................................................................41
III. An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO ...............................68
The coherent states as states of minimum energy expectation value ..................69
IV. General references..............................................................................................76

3
Preface
The purpose of the present eBook is to introduce, in a simple, intuitive way, the
coherent and squeezed states of the quantum harmonic oscillator (QHO), through a
series of exercises, which are solved in detail.
Starting from the application of a spatial translation to the ground state of the QHO,
we introduce the spatial and momentum translations, focusing on their application to
the QHO, which leads us to the displacement operator. We then introduce the
coherent states and examine their basic aspects. Next, we proceed to give a simple and
purely intuitive introduction to the squeezed states and we conclude by identifying the
coherent states as states of minimum energy expectation value compared to the
respective squeezed states.
The reader is assumed to have a basic knowledge of the postulates and the
mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics, including the Dirac notation and the
ladder operator method of the QHO.

4
Preliminaries

I. Preliminaries
Applying a spatial translation to the ground state of the quantum
harmonic oscillator (QHO)

ˆ ö
æ ipx
1) At time t = 0 , the wave function of a QHO is y ( x ) = exp ç - 1 ÷y 0 ( x ) ,
è h ø
d
where y 0 ( x ) is the ground-state wave function, pˆ = -ih is the momentum
dx
operator (in the position representation), and x1 is an eigenvalue of the
position operator (be careful, it is not the position operator).
i) Show that the wave function y ( x ) is normalized.
ii) Calculate the position and momentum expectation values of the QHO at
time t = 0 .
iii) Calculate the energy expectation value of the QHO at time t ³ 0 .
It is given that
1
æ mw ö 4 æ mw 2 ö
y 0 ( x) = ç ÷ exp ç - x ÷
è ph ø è 2h ø
and
¥
pæ b2 ö
ò dx exp ( - ax 2 - 2bx ) =exp ç ÷, a > 0.

a èa ø
For the integral, see, for instance,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaussian_integral

Solution
ˆ ö
æ ipx
i) Using the Taylor expansion of the operator exp ç - 1 ÷ , i.e.
è h ø
n
ˆ ö
æ ipx
¥ ç
- 1÷
ˆ ö
æ ipx h ø
exp ç - 1 ÷ = å è ,
è h ø n =0 n!
the wave function y ( x ) is written as

æ æ ipxˆ 1ö
n
ö ˆ 1ö
æ ipx
n

ç ¥ ç- ÷ ÷ ¥ ç
- ÷
h ø ÷y ( x ) = å è h ø y ( x )
y ( x) = ç å è
ç n =0 n! ÷ 0 n =0 n!
0

ç ÷
è ø
Since x1 is a number (not an operator), the momentum operator commutes with x1 ,
and with i too, and thus
n n
ˆ 1 ö æ ix1 ö n
æ ipx
ç- ÷ = ç - ÷ pˆ
è h ø è h ø

5
Preliminaries

Therefore, the wave function y ( x ) is written as
n n
æ ix1 ö æ ix1 ö
¥ ç
- ÷ ¥ ç
- ÷ n
è h ø n è h ø æ d ö
y ( x) = å pˆ y 0 ( x ) = å ç -i h ÷ y 0 ( x) =
n =0 n! n =0 n! è dx ø
n
æ ix1 ö
- ÷ ( -ih )
n
¥ ç
( i 2 x1 )
n
¥
è h ø dn
=å n
y 0 ( x) = å y 0( n ) ( x ) =
n= 0 n! dx n =0 n!
( - x1 ) y 0(n ) ( x )
n
¥ ¥
=å y 0 ( x) = å
( n)
( - x1 ) = y 0 ( x - x1 )
n

n= 0 n! n =0 n!

Remember that the Taylor series of a (proper) function f ( x ) about x¢ is written
¥
f(
m)
( x¢ )
as f ( x ) = å
m =0 m!
( x - x¢ )

That is
y ( x ) = y 0 ( x - x1 ) (1)
Using (1), we have
¥ ¥

dx y ( x ) = ò dx y ( x - x )
2 2
ò
-¥ -¥
0 1 (2)

Changing the integration variable to
y = x - x1 ,
we have
dx = dy
and
lim y = ±¥
x ®±¥

Thus, (2) becomes
¥ ¥

dx y ( x ) = ò dy y ( y )
2 2
ò
-¥ -¥
0 = 1,

because the ground-state wave function is normalized.
Therefore, the wave function y ( x ) is also normalized.
Another way of showing that y ( x ) is normalized is by observing that the operator
ˆ ö
æ ipx
exp ç - 1 ÷ is unitary.
è h ø
ˆ ö
æ ipx
Indeed, the Hermitian conjugate of exp ç - 1 ÷ is
è h ø

6
Preliminaries


æ æ ipx ˆ 1ö
n
ö

æ æ ipx
ˆ 1ö
n †
ö æ æ ipx
ˆ ö
n
ö
ç - 1÷
ç -
ˆ 1 ö ö ç ¥ çè h ÷ø
† ÷ ¥ çç
- ÷ ÷ ç ç h ø ÷÷
æ ÷ = å èè
¥
æ ipx è h ø ø
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ = ç å å
÷ = ç
è è øø n =0 n! ÷ æ ö{† n =0 ç n! ÷ n =0 n!
ç ÷ çç å Aˆi ÷÷ =å Aˆi† ç ÷
è ø èi ø i è ø
That is

æ æ ipx
ˆ 1ö ö
n

çç - ÷
æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx

¥ çè
è h ÷ø ÷ø
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ = å (3)
è è ø ø n= 0 n!
But

ö ææ ö ö

æ
æ æ ipxˆ 1ö ö
n †
ç æ ipx
ˆ ö æ ipx ˆ ö÷ ç ç ˆ ö æ ipx ÷ ˆ ö÷
ˆ ö æ ipx
æ ipx
çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ = ç ç - 1 ÷ ... ç - 1 ÷ ÷ = ç ç ç - 1 ÷ ... ç - 1 ÷ ÷ ç - 1 ÷ ÷ =
èè h ø ø ç è144h4ø2444 è h3ø ÷ ç ç è144 h4 ø2444 è h3ø ÷ è h ø ÷
è ø èèç ç ÷ ÷
n times ( n -1) times ø ø

æ ö
†ç ÷ æ ipx n -1 †
ˆ 1 ö æ æ ipx
ˆ 1ö ö

æ ˆ
ipx1 ö æ ˆ
ipx1 ö æ
ˆ
ipx1ö
= ç- ÷ çç- ÷ ...ç - ÷÷ = ç- ÷ çç - ÷ ÷
è h ø ç è144 h4 ø2444 è h3ø ÷ è h ø çè è h ø ÷ø
ç ÷
è ( n -1) times ø
That is
† †
æ æ ipxˆ 1 ö ö æ ipx
n
ˆ 1 ö æ æ ipx

ˆ 1ö ö
n -1

çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ = ç - ÷ çç ç - ÷ ÷÷
èè h ø ø è h ø èè h ø ø
Using repeatedly, n times, the previous relation, we obtain
† † †
æ æ ipxˆ 1 ö ö æ ipx
n
ˆ 1 ö æ æ ipx

ˆ 1 ö ö æ ipx
n -1 †
ˆ 1 ö æ ipxˆ 1 ö æ æ ipx

ˆ 1ö ö
n -2

çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ ç= - ÷ çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ ç = - ÷ ç - ÷ çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ =
è è h ø ø è h ø è è h ø è h
ø 14442444 ø è h ø
3è è h ø ø
2 times

n -3 †
ˆ 1 ö æ æ ipx ö
† † †
ˆ 1 ö æ ipx
æ ipx ˆ 1 ö æ ipx ˆ 1ö
= ç- ÷ ç- ÷ ç- ÷ çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ = ... =
è14444
h ø è 4244444
h ø è h 3 ø èè h ø ø
3 times

æ ö
ç ÷
†ç n -n ÷ † n

ˆ 1 ö æ ipx
æ ipx ˆ 1 ö æ ipx ˆ 1ö æ æ ipx
ˆ 1ö ö
= ç- ÷ ... ç - ÷ çç- ÷ ÷ = çç - ÷ ÷
h ø è h ø ç è h ø ÷ çè è h ø ÷ø
è1444 24443 14243
n times ç æ ipx 0 ÷
ç ç - ˆ 1 ö÷ =1 ÷
è è hø ø
That is
† n
æ æ ipxˆ 1 ö ö æ æ ipx
n
ˆ 1ö ö

çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ = çç ç - ÷ ÷÷ (4)
è è h ø ø è è h ø ø

7
Preliminaries

By means of (4), (3) becomes
† n
æ æ ipx
ˆ 1ö ö
n
æ æ ipx
ˆ 1ö ö

çç - ÷ çç- ÷
æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx

¥ çè
è h ÷ø ÷ø ¥ çè
è h ÷ø ÷ø
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ = å =å
è è ø ø n= 0 n! n =0 n!
Since the momentum operator is Hermitian,

ˆ 1 ö æ ipx
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
ç- ÷ =ç ÷
è h ø è h ø
Thus
n
ˆ 1ö
æ ipx
¥ ç ÷

æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
è h ø = exp æ ipx
ç exp ç - ÷÷ å = ç ÷
è è h ø ø n =0 n ! è h ø
That is

æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
æ ipx
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ = exp ç h ÷ (5)
è è øø è ø
Using (5) we obtain

æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
æ ipx
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ exp ç - h ÷ = exp ç h ÷ exp ç - h ÷
è è øø è ø è ø è ø
ˆ 1
ipx ˆ
ipx
Since the commutator of and - 1 is zero, applying the property
h h

( ) ( ) ( ) æ 1
è 2
ö
exp Aˆ + Bˆ = exp Aˆ exp Bˆ exp ç - éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ÷
ø
yields
ˆ ö
æ ipx ˆ ö
æ ipx ˆ
æ ipx ˆ ö
ipx
exp ç 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 ÷ = exp ç 1 - 1 ÷ = exp 0 = 1
è h ø è h ø è h h ø
In the same way,

ˆ öæ
æ ipx ˆ öö
æ ipx ˆ ö
æ ipx ˆ ö
æ ipx ˆ
æ ipx ˆ ö
ipx
exp ç - 1 ÷ ç exp ç - 1 ÷ ÷ = exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç 1 ÷ = exp ç - 1 + 1 ÷ = 1
è h øè è h øø è h ø è h ø è h h ø
Thus
† †
æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö
æ ipx ˆ 1 öæ
æ ipx ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ exp ç - h ÷ = exp ç - h ÷ ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ = 1
è è øø è ø è øè è øø
ˆ ö
æ ipx
Therefore, the operator exp ç - 1 ÷ is unitary, and thus it preserves the norms of the
è h ø
states on which it acts.
Then, in the state space, we have

8
Preliminaries

ˆ ö
æ ipx
y = exp ç - 1 ÷ 0 = 0
è h ø
Thus
2 2
y = 0 Þ yy = 00

Using the completeness of the position eigenstates, we have
æ ö æ ö
ç¥ ÷ ç¥ ÷
y ç ò dx x x ÷ y = 0 ç ò dx x x ÷ 0 Þ
çç -¥
14243 ÷÷ çç -¥
14243 ÷÷
è 1 ø è 1 ø
¥ ¥ ¥ ¥
2 2
Þ ò dx {

y x xy = ò dx {

0 x x0 Þ ò dx

xy = ò dx

x0
* *
xy x0

Substituting x 0 = y 0 ( x ) and x y = y ( x ) , and using that the ground state is
¥

ò dx y ( x )
2
normalized, i.e. 0 = 1 , we obtain

¥

ò dx y ( x )
2
=1

ii) At time t = 0 , the wave function of the QHO is the wave function (1). Thus, its
position expectation value is written as
¥

= ò dxy ( x - x ) xy ( x - x ) (6)
*
x 0 0 1 0 1

Changing again the integration variable to
y = x - x1 ,
we have
x = y + x1 ,
dx = dy
and
lim y = ±¥
x ®±¥

Thus (6) becomes
¥ ¥ ¥

dyy 0* ( y )( y + x1 )y 0 ( y ) = dyy 0* ( y ) yy 0 ( y ) + x1 ò dy y 0 ( y )
2
x 0
= ò

ò
-¥ -¥

¥

ò dyy ( y ) yy ( y )
*
The integral 0 0 is the position expectation value of the QHO in the

ground state, which is zero.

9
Preliminaries

We remind that the position expectation value of the QHO in an energy eigenstate
is zero.

¥

ò dy y ( y )
2
Also, 0 = 1 , since the ground-state wave function is normalized.

Thus
x 0
= x1 (7)

Likewise, the momentum expectation value of the QHO at t = 0 is
¥
æ d ö
= ò dxy ( x - x ) çè -ih dx ÷øy ( x - x )
*
p 0 0 1 0 1

Doing again the variable change y = x - x1 , the previous equation becomes
¥
æ d ö
= ò dyy ( y ) çè -ih dy ÷øy ( y )
*
p 0 0 0

¥
æ d ö
ò dyy ( y ) çè -ih dy ÷øy ( y )
*
The integral 0 0 is the momentum expectation value of the

QHO in the ground state, which is zero.

We remind that the momentum expectation value of the QHO in an energy
eigenstate is also zero.

Thus
p 0
= 0 (8)

æ ipxˆ ö
We see that the operator exp ç - 1 ÷ , acting on the ground state of the QHO,
è h ø
changes (translates) the position expectation value by x1 while leaving unchanged the
momentum expectation value.
This is easily generalized to an arbitrary, but bound, state – not necessarily an energy
eigenstate – of a one-dimensional quantum system – not necessarily of the QHO. The
æ ipxˆ ö
constraint that the state on which the operator exp ç - 1 ÷ acts should be bound is
è h ø
necessary so that it is normalizable and the respective integrals are finite.
Moreover, it can be shown – see the following exercise – that if the operator
æ ipxˆ ö
exp ç - 1 ÷ acts on a position eigenstate x , it yields the position eigenstate
è h ø
x + x1 , i.e.

ˆ ö
æ ipx
exp ç - 1 ÷ x = x + x1
è h ø

10
Preliminaries

Due to its property to translate the position, or the position expectation value, by its
ˆ ö
æ ipx
argument x1 , the operator exp ç - 1 ÷ is a spatial translation operator or, simply, a
è h ø
translation operator.
Obviously, for each position eigenvalue x1 , we can define a spatial translation
operator
ˆ ö
æ ipx
Tˆx1 º exp ç - 1 ÷
è h ø
iii) Since the Hamiltonian of the QHO is time independent, the Ehrenfest theorem
gives for the time evolution of the QHO energy expectation value
d E i
t
= é Hˆ , Hˆ ù = 0
dt h ë û t
Thus
E t= E 0
(9)

At t = 0 , the state of the QHO is described by the wave function y ( x ) .
Thus, the energy expectation value of the QHO at t = 0 is
¥

= ò dxy ( x ) Hˆ ( x )y ( x ) (10)
*
E 0

where Hˆ ( x ) is the Hamiltonian of the QHO in the position representation, i.e.
2
æ d ö
ç -ih ÷ 1
Hˆ ( x ) = è
dx ø
+ mw 2 x 2
2m 2
Substituting (1) and the previous Hamiltonian into (10), we obtain
ææ d ö
2
ö
¥ çç -i h ÷ 1 ÷
dx ø
E 0 = ò dxy 0* ( x - x1 ) ç è + mw 2 x 2 ÷y 0 ( x - x1 ) =

ç 2m 2 ÷
ç ÷
è ø
2
æ d ö
¥ ç -ih ÷ 1
¥
è dx ø
= ò dxy 0 ( x - x1 )
*
y 0 ( x - x1 ) + mw ò dxy 0* ( x - x1 ) x 2y 0 ( x - x1 )
2

-¥ 2 m 2 -¥

That is
2
æ d ö
¥ ç -i h ÷ 1
¥
è dx ø
E 0
= ò dxy 0 ( x - x1 )
*
y 0 ( x - x1 ) + mw ò dxy 0* ( x - x1 ) x 2y 0 ( x - x1 ) (11)
2

-¥ 2m 2 -¥

We’ll calculate the two integrals separately.
Changing again the integration variable to

11
Preliminaries

y = x - x1 ,
we have
x = y + x1 ,
dx = dy
and
lim y = ±¥
x ®±¥

Thus, the first integral on the right-hand side of (11) is written as
2
æ d ö
2
æ d ö
¥ ç -i h ÷ ¥ ç -ih dy ÷
è dx ø è ø
ò-¥ dxy 0 ( x - x1 ) 2m y 0 ( x - x1 ) = -¥ò dyy 0 ( y ) 2m y 0 ( y ) (12)
* *

The second integral on the right-hand side of (11) is written as
¥ ¥

ò dxy ( x - x ) x y ( x - x ) = ò dyy ( y )( y + x ) y ( y ) =
* 2 * 2
0 1 0 1 0 1 0
-¥ -¥
¥

= ò dyy ( y ) ( y + 2 x1 y + x12 )y 0 ( y ) =
* 2
0

¥ ¥ ¥

= ò dyy ( y ) y y ( y ) + 2 x ò dyy ( y ) yy ( y ) + x ò dyy ( y )y ( y )
* 2 * 2 *
0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0
-¥ -¥ -¥

¥

ò dyy ( y ) yy ( y )
*
The integral 0 0 is the position expectation value in the ground state

of the QHO, which is zero.
Also, since the ground-state wave function is normalized, the integral
¥

ò dyy ( y )y ( y ) is 1.
*
0 0

Thus
¥ ¥

ò dxy ( x - x ) x y ( x - x ) = ò dyy ( y ) y y ( y ) + x
* 2 * 2 2
0 1 0 1 0 0 1 (13)
-¥ -¥

Substituting the integrals (12) and (13) into (11), we obtain
2
æ d ö
ç -ih dy ÷
ø y y + 1 mw 2 æ dyy * y y 2y y + x 2 ö =
¥ ¥
E 0
= ò dyy 0* ( y ) è 0( ) çò 0 ( ) 0( ) 1 ÷

2m 2 è -¥ ø
2
æ d ö
¥ ç -ih dy ÷ ¥
è ø 1 1
= ò dyy 0 ( y )
*
y 0 ( y ) + ò dyy 0* ( y ) mw 2 y 2y 0 ( y ) + mw 2 x12 =
-¥ 2m -¥ 2 2

12
Preliminaries

ææ d ö
2
ö
ç ç - i h ÷
¥
dy ÷ø 1 1
= ò dyy 0* ( y ) çç è + mw 2 y 2 ÷÷y 0 ( y ) + mw 2 x12 =
2m 2 2

ç ÷
ç ÷
è ø
¥
1
= ò dyy 0* ( y ) Hˆ ( y )y 0 ( y ) + mw 2 x12
-¥ 2
¥

ò dyy ( y ) Hˆ ( y )y ( y )
*
The integral 0 0 is the energy expectation value of the QHO in

hw
the ground state, which, obviously, is equal to the ground-state energy, i.e. .
2
Thus
hw 1
E 0
= + mw 2 x12 (14)
2 2
ˆ ö
æ ipx
We see that the action of the spatial translation operator exp ç - 1 ÷ on the ground
è h ø
state of the QHO increases the energy expectation value by the positive amount
1
mw 2 x12 , which is the energy of a classical harmonic oscillator with amplitude x1 .
2
By means of (14), (9) is written as
hw 1
E t= + mw 2 x12 (15)
2 2
This is the energy expectation value of the QHO at time t ³ 0 .

More on spatial translation operators

ˆ ö
æ ipx
2) i) If Tˆx1 º exp ç - 1 ÷ is a spatial translation operator, show that
è h ø
é xˆ, Tˆx ù = x1Tˆx .
ë 1 û 1

ii) Using the previous commutator, show that the action of Tˆx1 on a position
eigenstate yields a position eigenstate with eigenvalue translated by x1 , i.e.
Tˆ x = x + x .
x1 1

iii) Using the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula
( ) ( ) 1

1
û 3! ë ë ûû
1
exp Aˆ Bˆ exp - Aˆ = Bˆ + éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû + é Aˆ , éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ù + éê Aˆ , é Aˆ , éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ù ùú + ... + éê Aˆ , é Aˆ ,... éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ...ù ùú
n ! ë144 ë 424443 ûû
n Aˆ ' s or n commutators
show that, for an infinitely many times differentiable function f ,
Tˆx1 † f ( xˆ ) Tˆx1 = f ( xˆ + x1 ) .
iv) A QHO is in the state Tˆx1 y , with y being an arbitrary state of the QHO.
Using the previous property of Tˆ , express the expectation values of the
x1

13
Preliminaries

position, momentum, and energy, as well as the position and momentum
uncertainties, and the position-momentum uncertainty product, in the
translated state Tˆx1 y in terms of the respective quantities in the untranslated
state y .

Solution
i) Using the Taylor expansion of Tˆx1 , the commutator éë xˆ , Tˆx1 ùû is written as

é ˆ 1ö ù
æ ipx
n

ê ¥ ç - ÷ ú ¥ é n
ù
é xˆ , Tˆx ù = éê xˆ , exp æç - ipx1 ö÷ ùú = ê xˆ , å è h ø ú = å 1 ê xˆ , æç - ipx1 ö÷ ú =
ˆ ˆ
ë 1 û
è h ø û ê n =0 n ! ú n = 0 n ! êë è h ø úû
ë
ê ú
ë û
n
æ ix1 ö
¥ ç
- ÷
è h ø
=å éë xˆ, pˆ n ùû
n= 0 n !
ix1
In the last equality, we used that the quantity - is a number, and thus it commutes
h
with the momentum operator.
We remind that the argument x1 of the spatial translation operator Tˆx1 is a real
number, not an operator. You can think of it as being an eigenvalue of the position
operator.
Thus
n
æ ix1 ö
¥ ç
- ÷
é xˆ , Tˆx ù = å è h ø é xˆ, pˆ n ù (1)
ë 1 û
n =0 n! ë û

We need to calculate the commutator éë xˆ , pˆ n ùû .
The result of a commutator is independent of the representation we choose to
calculate it.
Since the momentum operator is to the nth power, we choose to calculate the
commutator in the momentum representation, where the momentum operator is a
scalar variable, and thus we can handle the exponential much easier than if it was an
operator.
d
We remind that in the momentum representation, xˆ = ih and pˆ = p .
dp
Choosing an arbitrary wave function f ( p ) (in the momentum representation), the
action of éë xˆ , pˆ n ùû on f ( p ) yields

é d nù æ d n d ö æ d n df ( p ) ö
êih dp , p ú f ( p ) = ç ih dp p - p ih dp ÷ f ( p ) = ih ç dp ( p f ( p ) ) - p ÷=
n n

ë û è ø è dp ø
æ ö
= ih ç ( p n )¢ f ( p ) + p nf ¢ ( p ) - p nf ¢ ( p ) ÷ = ihnp n -1f ( p )
è ø

14
Preliminaries

Here, the prime denotes differentiation with respect to p .

That is
é d nù
êih dp , p ú f ( p ) = ihnp f ( p )
n -1

ë û
Since the wave function f ( p ) is arbitrary,

é d nù n -1
êih dp , p ú = ihnp
ë û
or, in representation-free form,
éë xˆ, pˆ n ùû = ihnpˆ n-1 (2)

with n ³ 1 . If n = 0 , the commutator (2) is zero.
Substituting into (1) yields
n n n -1
æ ix1 ö æ ix1 ö æ ix1 ö æ -ix1 ö
¥ ç
- ÷ ¥ ç
- ÷ ¥ ç
- ÷ ç ih ÷
é xˆ , Tx ù = å è h ø è h ø è h ø è h ø pˆ n -1 =
ë
ˆ
1 û
ihnpˆ = å
n -1
ihpˆ = å
n -1

n =1 n ! n =1 ( n - 1) ! n =1 ( )
n - 1 !
n -1 n -1 n¢ n¢
æ ix1 ö æ ix1 ö æ ix1 ö ˆ ö
æ ipx
¥ ç
- ÷ x1 ¥ ç
- ÷ ¥ ç
- ÷ ¥ ç
- 1÷
h ø h ø è h ø pˆ n¢ = x è h ø =
=åè pˆ n -1 = x1 å è pˆ n -1 ={ x1 å 1å
n =1 ( n - 1)! n =1 ( n - 1) ! n¢= n -1 n¢ = 0 n¢ ! n¢ = 0 n¢ !
ˆ ö
æ ipx
= x1 exp ç - 1 ÷ = x1Tˆx1
è h ø
That is
é xˆ, Tˆx ù = x1Tˆx (3)
ë 1 û 1

ii) Using the previous commutator, we obtain
ˆ ˆx1 - Tˆx1 xˆ = x1Tˆx1 Þ xT
xT ˆ ˆx1 = Tˆx1 xˆ + x1Tˆx1

ˆ ˆx1 on a position eigenstate x yields
Thus, the action of the operator xT

( )
ˆ ˆx1 x = Tˆx1 xˆ + x1Tˆx1 x = Tˆx1 xˆ x + x1Tˆx1 x = Tˆx1 x x + x1Tˆx1 x
xT

Since x is a number – an eigenvalue of the position operator – it commutes with Tˆx1 ,
and thus
ˆ ˆx1 x = xTˆx1 x + x1Tˆx1 x = ( x + x1 ) Tˆx1 x
xT
That is
ˆ ˆx1 x = ( x + x1 ) Tˆx1 x
xT

Thus, the state Tˆx1 x is a position eigenstate with eigenvalue x + x1 .
Therefore

15
Preliminaries

Tˆx1 x = A x + x1 ,
where A is a complex constant.
In the previous exercise, we showed that the operator Tˆx1 is unitary, and thus it
preserves the norms of the states on which it acts.
Therefore, although the position eigenstates are not bound, we can assume that
A =1

Omitting the physically unimportant constant phase of A , we end up to
Tˆx1 x = x + x1 (4)
ˆ
ipx
iii) For Aˆ = 1 and Bˆ = f ( xˆ ) , the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula is written as
h
ˆ ö
æ ipx ˆ ö
æ ipx ˆ
é ipx ù 1 é ipx
ˆ é ipx
ˆ ùù
exp ç 1 ÷ f ( xˆ ) exp ç - 1 ÷ = f ( xˆ ) + ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú + ê 1 , ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú ú +
è h ø è h ø ë h û 2ë h ë h ûû
1 é ipx
ˆ é ipx
ˆ é ipx ˆ ùùù 1 é ipx
ˆ é ipxˆ ˆ
é ipx ù ùù
+ ê 1 , ê 1 , ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú ú ú + ... + ê 1 , ê 1 ,... ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú ...ú ú (5)
3! ë h ë h ë h ûûû n! ë h ë h ë h û ûû

We need to calculate the commutator éë pˆ , f ( xˆ ) ùû . Since the function f is unknown, it
is suitable to do the calculation in the position representation, where the position
operator is a scalar variable, and thus the operator function f ( xˆ ) becomes a scalar
function.
d
We remind that in the position representation, xˆ = x and pˆ = -ih .
dx
Choosing an arbitrary wave function f ( x ) (in the position representation), the action
of éë pˆ , f ( xˆ ) ùû on f ( x ) yields

é d ù æ d æ d öö
êë -ih dx , f ( x ) úû f ( x ) = ç -ih dx f ( x ) - f ( x ) èç -ih dx ø÷ ÷ f ( x ) =
è ø
æd df ( x ) ö
= -ih ç ( f ( x ) f ( x ) ) - f ( x ) ÷ = -ih ( f ¢ ( x ) f ( x ) + f ( x ) f ¢ ( x ) - f ( x ) f ¢ ( x ) ) =
è dx dx ø
= -ihf ¢ ( x ) f ( x )

Here, the prime denotes differentiation with respect to x .

That is
é d ù
êë -ih dx , f ( x ) úû f ( x ) = -ihf ¢ ( x ) f ( x )

Since the wave function f ( x ) is arbitrary,

é d ù
êë -ih dx , f ( x ) úû = -ihf ¢ ( x )

16
Preliminaries

or, in representation-free form,
éë pˆ , f ( xˆ ) ùû = -ihf ¢ ( xˆ ) (6)

Using (6), we have
ˆ 1
é ipx ù ix1 ˆ ix1
êë h , f ( ˆ
x ) =
úû h é
ë p , f ( ˆ
x ) ù
û =
h
( -ihf ¢ ( xˆ ) ) = x1 f ¢ ( xˆ )
é ipx
ˆ 1 é ipx
ˆ 1 ù ù é ipx
ˆ 1 ù i 2 i 2
ê h , ê h , f ( xˆ ) ú ú = ê h , x1 f ¢ ( xˆ ) ú = h x1 éë pˆ , f ¢ ( xˆ ) ùû = h x1 ( -ihf ¢¢ ( xˆ ) ) = x1 f ¢¢ ( xˆ )
2

ë ë ûû ë û

Assuming that
é ipx
ˆ 1 é ipx
ˆ ˆ
é ipx ù ùù
ê , ê 1 ,... ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú ...ú ú = x1k f ( k ) ( xˆ )
h ë h
ë1444442444443 ë h û ûû
k commutators

then
é ù
é ipx
ˆ 1 é ipx
ˆ 1 é ipx ˆ 1 ù ù ù ê ˆ
ipx é ˆ
ipx é ˆ
ipx ù ú é ipx
ù ˆ ù
ê ,ê ,... ê , f ( xˆ ) ú ...ú ú = ê 1 , ê 1 ,... ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú ...ú ú = ê 1 , x1k f ( k ) ( xˆ ) ú =
h ë h
ë1444442444443 ë h û û û ê h ë1444 h ë4h24444 û 3û ú ë h û
( k +1) commutators ê
ë k commutators ú
û
i
h
k i
h
(k +1
)
= x1k +1 éë pˆ , f ( ) ( xˆ ) ùû = x1k +1 -ihf ( ) ( xˆ ) = x1k +1 f ( ) ( xˆ )
k +1

Thus
é ipx
ˆ 1 é ipx
ˆ ˆ
é ipx ù ùù
ê , ê 1 ,... ê 1 , f ( xˆ ) ú ...ú ú = x1n f ( n ) ( xˆ ) ,
h ë h
ë1444442444443 ë h û ûû
n commutators

for every n = 1, 2,...
Thus, the right-hand side of (5) is written as
1 2 1 1
f ( xˆ ) + x1 f ¢ ( xˆ ) + x1 f ¢¢ ( xˆ ) + x13 f ( ) ( xˆ ) + ... + x1n f ( ) ( xˆ ) =
3 n

2 3! n!
f ¢¢ ( xˆ ) 2 f ( xˆ ) 3
( 3)
f ( ) ( xˆ ) n ¥ f ( ) ( xˆ ) n
n n

= f ( xˆ ) + f ¢ ( xˆ ) x1 + x1 + x1 + ... + x1 = å x1
2 3! n! n =0 n!
¥
f(
n)
( xˆ ) x n
The series ån= 0 n!
1 is the Taylor expansion of f ( xˆ + x1 ) about xˆ , i.e.

¥
f(
n)
( xˆ ) x n =
å
n =0 n!
1 f ( xˆ + x1 )

Thus, the right-hand side of (5) is equal to f ( xˆ + x1 ) .
Besides, in the previous exercise, we showed that

17
Preliminaries


ˆ ö æ
æ ipx ˆ öö
æ ipx
exp ç 1 ÷ = ç exp ç - 1 ÷ ÷
è h ø è è h øø
Thus, the left-hand side of (5) is written as

æ ˆ 1 öö
æ ipx ˆ 1ö ˆ †
æ ipx
ç exp ç - h ÷ ÷ f ( xˆ ) exp ç - h ÷ = Tx1 f ( xˆ ) Tx1
ˆ
è è ø ø è ø
Therefore, (5) is written as
Tˆx1 † f ( xˆ ) Tˆx1 = f ( xˆ + x1 ) (7)

iv) Denoting by Oˆ and Oˆ , respectively, the expectation values of an
y Tˆx1 y

operator Oˆ in the untranslated state y and in the translated state Tˆx1 y , we have

x Tˆx1 y (
= Tˆx1 y , xT
ˆ ˆx1 y )=(y , Tˆx1 † xT
ˆ ˆx1 y ),
where, for more clarity, we use the general notation for inner products, since the
spatial translation operators are non-Hermitian.
Using (7), we have
Tˆx1 † xT
ˆ ˆx1 = xˆ + x1 ,

since, in this case, f ( xˆ ) = xˆ .
Thus, the position expectation value in the translated state is written as
x Tˆx1 y
= ( y , ( xˆ + x1 ) y ) = (14
y , xˆ y ) + ( y , x1 y )=
243
x y

= x y
+ x1 ( y , y ) = x y
+ x1
1424 3
1

We assume that the initial, untranslated state y is normalized.

That is
x Tˆx1 y
= x y
+ x1 (8)

To calculate the position expectation value (8), we didn’t use that the state y is a
QHO state, we only used that it is bound, so that its norm is 1.
Thus, the relation (8) holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-
dimensional quantum system.
The momentum expectation value in the translated state is written as
p Tˆx1 y (
= Tˆx1 y , pT
ˆ ˆx1 y ) =(y , Tˆx1 † pT
ˆ ˆx1 y )
Since the spatial translation operators depend only on the momentum operator, they
commute with the momentum operator, and with every function of the momentum
operator, i.e. if g ( pˆ ) is a function of the momentum operator, then

18
Preliminaries

é g ( pˆ ) , Tˆx ù = 0 (9)
ë 1 û

Thus
Tˆx1 † pT
ˆ ˆx1 = Tˆx1 †Tˆx1 pˆ = pˆ
{
1

Then, the momentum expectation value in the translated state is written as
p Tˆx1 y
= ( y , pˆ y )= p y

That is
p Tˆx1 y
= p y
(10)

As in the case of the relation (8), the relation (10) also holds for every bound, and
normalized, state of any one-dimensional quantum system.
The energy expectation value in the translated state is written as
E Tˆx1 y (
= Tˆx1 y , HT
ˆˆ y
x1 )=(y , Tˆx1 † HT
ˆˆ y
x1 )
The Hamiltonian of the QHO is
pˆ 2 1
Hˆ = + mw 2 xˆ 2
2m 2
Thus, we have

ˆ ˆ = Tˆ † æ pˆ + 1 mw 2 xˆ 2 ö Tˆ = 1 Tˆ † pˆ 2Tˆ + 1 mw 2Tˆ † xˆ 2Tˆ
2
Tˆx1 † HT x1 x1 ç ÷ x1 x x1 x1 x1
è 2m 2 ø 2m 1 2

Using (7) and that the momentum operator squared commutes with Tˆx1 , we obtain

1 ˆ †ˆ 2 1 pˆ 2 1
ˆ † ˆ ˆ 2 ˆ † 2 ˆ
+ mw 2 ( xˆ + x1 ) =
2
Tx1 HTx1 = Tx1 Tx1 p + mw Tx1 x Tx1 =
ˆ ˆ
2m { 2 1
424 3 2m 2
1
( xˆ + x1 )2

pˆ 2 1 pˆ 2 1 1
+ mw 2 ( xˆ 2 + 2 x1 xˆ + x12 ) =
2
= + mw 2 xˆ 2 + mw 2 x1 xˆ + mw 2 x12 =
2m 2 2m 2 2
1
= Hˆ + mw 2 x1 xˆ + mw 2 x12
2
That is

ˆ ˆ = Hˆ + mw 2 x xˆ + 1 mw 2 x 2
Tˆx1 † HT x1 1 1
2
Then, the energy expectation value in the translated state is written as
æ ö
E Tˆx1 y
=çy
è
æ
è
1
2
ö
ø ø 14243
( 14243
)
, ç Hˆ + mw 2 x1 xˆ + mw 2 x12 ÷ y ÷ = y , Hˆ y + mw 2 x1 ( y , xˆ y ) +
E x y
y

1 1
+ mw 2 x12 ( y , y ) = E y
+ mw 2 x1 x y
+ mw 2 x12
2 1424 3 2
1

19
Preliminaries

That is
1
E Tˆx1 y
= E y
+ mw 2 x1 x y
+ mw 2 x12 (11)
2
The relation (11) holds for every state of the QHO.
If the untranslated state y is an energy eigenstate n , then x y
= 0 and
æ 1ö
E y
= En = ç n + ÷ hw . Then, (11) becomes
è 2ø
æ 1ö 1
E Tˆx1 y
= ç n + ÷ hw + mw 2 x12 (12)
è 2ø 2
For n = 0 (ground state), (12) gives (14) or (15) of the previous exercise, as it should
do.
The position uncertainty in the translated state is

( )
2
( Dx )Tˆ x1 y
= x2 Tˆx1 y
- x Tˆx1 y
(13)

The expectation value of the position operator squared in the translated state is

x2 Tˆx1 y
(
= Tˆx1 y , xˆ 2Tˆx1 y )=(y , Tˆx1 † xˆ 2Tˆx1 y )
Using (7), we obtain

Tˆx1 † xˆ 2Tˆx1 = ( xˆ + x1 ) = xˆ 2 + 2 x1 xˆ + x12
2

Thus

x2 Tˆx1 y
(
= y , ( xˆ 2 + 2 x1 xˆ + x12 ) y )=(y , xˆ 2 y ) + 2x ( y
1 , xˆ y )+ x (y
1
2
,y )=
= x2 + 2 x1 x y
+ x12
y

That is
x2 = x2 + 2 x1 x y
+ x12 (14)
Tˆx1 y y

Substituting (14) and (8) into (13), we obtain

( )
2
( Dx )Tˆ x1 y
= x2 y
+ 2 x1 x y
+ x12 - x y
+ x1 =

æ
( ) + 2x ö
2
= x2 + 2 x1 x y
+ x12 - ç x y 1 x y
+ x12 ÷ =
y
è ø

( )
2
= x2 y
- x y
= ( Dx ) y

That is
( Dx )Tˆ x1 y
= ( Dx ) y (15)

20
Preliminaries

Thus, the position uncertainty does not change, and this holds for every bound, and
normalized, state of any one-dimensional quantum system.
Similarly, the momentum uncertainty in the translated state is

( )
2
( Dp )Tˆ x1 y
= p2 Tˆx1 y
- p Tˆx1 y
(16)

The expectation value of the momentum operator squared in the translated state is

p2 Tˆx1 y
(
= Tˆx1 y , pˆ 2Tˆx1 y )=(y , Tˆx1 † pˆ 2Tˆx1 y )
Since the momentum operator squared commutes with Tˆx1 ,

Tˆx1 † pˆ 2Tˆx1 = Tˆx1 †Tˆx1 pˆ 2 = pˆ 2
{
1

Thus
p2 = ( y , pˆ 2 y )= p2
Tˆx1 y y

That is
p2 = p2 (17)
Tˆx1 y y

Substituting (17) and (10) into (16), we obtain
( Dp )Tˆ x1 y
= ( Dp ) y (18)

Thus, the momentum uncertainty does not change, and this also holds for every
bound, and normalized, state of any one-dimensional quantum system.
From (15) and (18), we derive that the position-momentum uncertainty product is the
same in the translated and untranslated state, and this also holds for every bound, and
normalized, state of any one-dimensional quantum system.

Momentum translation operators

3) Similar to the case of spatial translation operators, a momentum translation
æ ip xˆ ö
operator Tˆp1 is defined as Tˆp1 º exp ç 1 ÷ , where xˆ is the position operator
è h ø
and p1 is an eigenvalue of the momentum operator.
i) Show that the operator Tˆ is unitary. p1

ii) Show that éë pˆ , Tˆp1 ùû = p1Tˆp1 .
iii) Show that the action of Tˆp1 on a momentum eigenstate yields a momentum
eigenstate with eigenvalue translated by p , i.e. Tˆ p = p + p . 1 p1 1

iv) Using the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula show that, for an infinitely
many times differentiable function f , Tˆp1 † f ( pˆ ) Tˆp1 = f ( pˆ + p1 ) .
v) A QHO is in the state Tˆ y , with y being an arbitrary state of the QHO.
p1

Using the previous property of Tˆp1 , express the expectation values of the

21
Preliminaries

position, momentum, and energy, as well as the position and momentum
uncertainties, and the position-momentum uncertainty product, in the
translated state Tˆp1 y in terms of the respective quantities in the untranslated
state y .

Solution
æ ip xˆ ö
i) Using the Taylor expansion of exp ç 1 ÷ , the Hermitian conjugate of Tˆp1 is written
è h ø
as

æ æ ip1 xˆ ön ö
† †
æ æ ip1 xˆ ö n ö æ æ ip1 xˆ ö n
ö
ç ç ÷ çç ÷ ÷÷
÷ ¥ çç ÷ ÷ ¥ çè h ø

æ æ ip1 xˆ ö ö ç ¥ è h ø è h ø è ø
Tˆp1 † = ç exp ç
è
÷÷ =
è h ø ø ç n =0 n !
å ÷ = åç
÷ n =0 ç n ! ÷ n =0
÷ =å
n!
ç ÷ ç ÷
è ø è ø
In the same way we proved the relation (4) of the exercise 1, we prove that
† n
æ æ ip1 xˆ ö n ö æ æ ip1 xˆ ö† ö
çç ç ÷ ÷÷ = çç ç ÷ ÷÷
è è h ø ø è è h ø ø

Then, using also that the position operator is Hermitian, we obtain
n
æ æ ip1 xˆ ö† ö n
ç ÷ æ ip1 xˆ ö
ç
¥ çè h ø ÷
÷ ¥ ç
- ÷
= åè ø = è h ø = exp æ - ip1 xˆ ö
Tˆp1 †
n =0 n!
å
n =0 n!
ç
è h ø
÷

That is
æ ip xˆ ö
Tˆp1 † = exp ç - 1 ÷ (1)
è h ø
Then, the product Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 is written as

æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö
Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 = exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç 1 ÷
è h ø è h ø
ip1 xˆ ip xˆ
Since the commutator of - and 1 is zero,
h h
æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ip xˆ ö
exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç 1 ÷ = exp ç - 1 + 1 ÷ = exp 0 = 1
è h ø è h ø è h h ø
That is
Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 = 1
In the same way, we have
æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ip xˆ ö
Tˆp1Tˆp1 † = exp ç 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 ÷ = exp ç 1 - 1 ÷ = 1
è h ø è h ø è h h ø

22
Preliminaries

Thus
Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 = Tˆp1Tˆp1 † = 1

Therefore, Tˆp1 is unitary.
æ ip xˆ ö
ii) Using again the Taylor expansion of exp ç 1 ÷ , the commutator éë pˆ , Tˆp1 ùû is
è h ø
written as
é æ ip1 xˆ ö ù
n
é æ ip1 xˆ ö n ù
ê ¥ ç ÷ ú ¥ ê ç ÷ ú ¥ é ˆ ù
n
é pˆ , Tˆp ù = ê pˆ , å è h ø ú = å ê pˆ , è h ø ú = å 1 ê pˆ , æç ip1 x ö÷ ú
ë 1 û
ê n =0 n ! ú n = 0 ê n ! ú n =0 n ! ëê è h ø ûú
ê ú ê ú
ë û ë û
ip1
Using that the position operator commutes with the number (remember that p1 is
h
a number), we obtain
¥ n
é pˆ , Tˆp ù = å æç 1 ö÷ é pˆ , xˆ n ù
1 ip
ë 1 û ë û
n= 0 n ! è h ø

In the previous exercise, we showed that the commutator of the momentum operator
with a differentiable function f of the position operator is

éë pˆ , f ( xˆ ) ùû = -ihf ¢ ( xˆ )

Thus
éë pˆ , xˆ n ùû = -ihnxˆ n-1

with n ³ 1 . If n = 0 , the commutator is zero.
Then, the commutator éë pˆ , Tˆp1 ùû is written as

¥ n ¥ n -1
é pˆ , Tˆp ù = å 1 æç 1 ö÷ ( -ihnxˆ n -1 ) = å 1 æç 1 ö÷ æ ip1 ö
ip ip
ç h ÷ ( -ih ) xˆ =
n -1
ë 1 û
n =1 n ! è h ø n =1 ( n - 1) ! è h ø è ø
n -1 n¢
æ ip1 xˆ ö æ ip1 xˆ ö
¥ n -1 ¥ ç ÷ ¥ ç ÷
1 æ ip1 ö h ø è h ø =
=å ç ÷ p1 xˆ n -1 = p1 å è { 1å
= p
n =1 ( n - 1) ! è h ø n =1 ( n - 1) ! n¢= n -1 n¢ = 0 n¢ !
æ ip xˆ ö
= p1 exp ç 1 ÷ = p1Tˆp1
è h ø
That is
é pˆ , Tˆp ù = p1Tˆp (2)
ë 1 û 1

iii) Using the previous commutator, we obtain
ˆ ˆp1 - Tˆp1 pˆ = p1Tˆp1 Þ pT
pT ˆ ˆp1 = Tˆp1 pˆ + p1Tˆp1

23
Preliminaries

ˆ ˆp1 on a momentum eigenstate p yields
Thus, the action of pT

(
ˆ ˆp1 p = Tˆp1 pˆ + p1Tˆp1
pT )p = Tˆp1 pˆ p + p1Tˆp1 p = Tˆp1 p p + p1Tˆp1 p

where p is the eigenvalue of the momentum eigenstate p , i.e. it is a number, and
thus it commutes with Tˆ . p1

Then
ˆ ˆp1 p = pTˆp1 p + p1Tˆp1 p = ( p + p1 ) Tˆp1 p
pT
That is
ˆ ˆp1 p = ( p + p1 ) Tˆp1 p
pT

The state Tˆp1 p is thus a momentum eigenstate with eigenvalue p + p1 .
Therefore
Tˆp1 p = B p + p1 ,
where B is a complex constant.
Since Tˆp1 is a unitary operator, it preserves the norms of the states on which it acts.
Therefore, although the momentum eigenstates are not bound, we can assume that
B =1

Then, omitting the physically unimportant constant phase of B , we obtain
Tˆp1 p = p + p1 (3)

ip xˆ
iv) For Aˆ = - 1 and Bˆ = f ( pˆ ) , the Baker-Campbell-Hausdorff formula,
h

( ) ( ) 1

1
û 3! ë ë ûû
1
exp Aˆ Bˆ exp - Aˆ = Bˆ + éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû + é Aˆ , éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ù + éê Aˆ , é Aˆ , éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ù ùú + ... + éê Aˆ , é Aˆ ,... éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ...ù ùú ,
n ! ë144 ë 424443 ûû
n Aˆ ' s or n commutators

is written as
æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö é ip xˆ ù 1 é ip xˆ é ip xˆ ùù
exp ç - 1 ÷ f ( pˆ ) exp ç 1 ÷ = f ( pˆ ) + ê - 1 , f ( pˆ ) ú + ê - 1 , ê - 1 , f ( pˆ ) ú ú +
è h ø è h ø ë h û 2ë h ë h ûû
1 é ip xˆ é ip xˆ é ip xˆ ùùù 1 é ip xˆ é ip xˆ é ip xˆ ù ùù
+ ê - 1 , ê - 1 , ê - 1 , f ( pˆ ) ú ú ú + ... + ê - 1 , ê - 1 ,... ê - 1 , f ( pˆ ) ú ...ú ú (4)
3! ë h ë h ë h ûûû n! ë h ë h ë h û ûû

We’ll use the momentum representation to calculate the commutator éë xˆ, f ( pˆ ) ùû , since
d
in the momentum representation, xˆ = ih and pˆ = p , and thus the operator function
dp
f ( pˆ ) becomes a usual, and easy-to-handle, scalar function.

24
Preliminaries

Thus, choosing an arbitrary wave function f ( p ) (in the momentum representation),
we have
é d ù æ d d ö æ d df ( p ) ö
êih dp , f ( p ) ú f ( p ) = ç ih dp f ( p ) - f ( p ) ih dp ÷ f ( p ) = ih ç dp ( f ( p ) f ( p ) ) - f ( p ) dp ÷ =
ë û è ø è ø
= i h ( f ¢ ( p ) f ( p ) + f ( p ) f ¢ ( p ) - f ( p ) f ¢ ( p ) ) = i hf ¢ ( p ) f ( p )

Here, the prime denotes differentiation with respect to p .

That is
é d ù
êih dp , f ( p ) ú f ( p ) = ihf ¢ ( p ) f ( p )
ë û
Since the wave function f ( p ) is arbitrary,

é d ù
êih dp , f ( p ) ú = ihf ¢ ( p )
ë û
or, in representation-free form,
éë xˆ, f ( pˆ ) ùû = ihf ¢ ( pˆ ) (5)

Using (5), we have
é ip1 xˆ ù ip1 ip1
êë - h , f ( pˆ ) úû = - h éë xˆ, f ( pˆ ) ùû = - h ihf ¢ ( pˆ ) = p1 f ¢ ( pˆ )

é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ ù ù é ip1 xˆ ù ip12
-
ê h ê h , - , f ( ˆ
p ) =
úû ú êë h - , p f ¢ ( ˆ
p ) = - é xˆ, f ¢ ( pˆ ) ùû =
úû h ë
1
ë ë û
ip 2
= - 1 ihf ¢¢ ( pˆ ) = p12 f ¢¢ ( pˆ )
h
Assuming that
é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ ù ùù
ê- , ê- ,... ê - , f ( pˆ ) ú ...ú ú = p1k f ( k ) ( pˆ )
h ë h
ë1444444 ë h û ûû
424444444 3
k commutators

then
é ù
é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ ù ù ù ê ip xˆ é ip xˆ é ip xˆ ù ùú
ê- , ê- ,... ê - , f ( pˆ ) ú ...ú ú = ê - 1 , ê - 1 ,... ê - 1 , f ( pˆ ) ú ...ú ú =
h ë h
ë1444444 ë h û û û ê h ë14444 h h
ë4244444 û 3û ú
424444444 3 ê
( k +1) commutators ë k commutators úû
k +1 k +1
é ip xˆ ù ip ip
= ê - 1 , p1k f ( k ) ( pˆ ) ú = - 1 éë xˆ, f ( k ) ( pˆ ) ùû = - 1 ihf ( k +1) ( pˆ ) = p1k +1 f ( k +1) ( pˆ )
ë h û h h
Thus

25
Preliminaries

é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ é ip1 xˆ ù ùù
ê- , ê- ,... ê - , f ( pˆ ) ú ...ú ú = p1n f ( n ) ( pˆ ) ,
h ë h
ë1444444 ë h û ûû
424444444 3
n commutators

for every n = 1, 2,...
Then, the right-hand side of (4) becomes
1 2 1 1
f ( pˆ ) + p1 f ¢ ( pˆ ) + p1 f ¢¢ ( pˆ ) + p13 f ( ) ( pˆ ) + ... + p1n f ( ) ( pˆ ) =
3 n

2 3! n!
f ¢¢ ( pˆ ) 2 f ( pˆ ) 3
(3)
f ( ) ( pˆ ) n ¥ f ( ) ( pˆ ) n
n n

= f ( pˆ ) + f ¢ ( pˆ ) p1 + p1 + p1 + ... + p1 = å p1
2 3! n! n =0 n!
¥
f(
n)
( pˆ ) p n
The series å
n =0 n!
1 is the Taylor expansion of f ( pˆ + p1 ) about pˆ , i.e.

¥
f(
n)
( pˆ ) p n =
å
n= 0 n!
1 f ( pˆ + p1 )

Thus, the right-hand side of (4) is equal to f ( pˆ + p1 ) .
æ ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö
Using (1), the left-hand side of (4), i.e. the term exp ç - 1 ÷ f ( pˆ ) exp ç 1 ÷ , is
è h ø è h ø
written as Tˆp1 f ( pˆ ) Tˆp1 .

Therefore, (4) is written as
Tˆp1 † f ( pˆ ) Tˆp1 = f ( pˆ + p1 ) (6)
v) Using again, for more clarity, the general notation for inner products, the position
expectation value in the translated state Tˆp1 y is written as

x Tˆp1 y (
= Tˆp1 y , xT
ˆ ˆp1 y ) =(y , Tˆp1 † xT
ˆ ˆp1 y )
The momentum translation operators depend only on the position operator, and thus
they commute with the position operator, and with every function of the position
operator, i.e. if g ( xˆ ) is a function of the position operator, then

é g ( xˆ ) , Tˆp ù = 0 (7)
ë 1 û

Thus
Tˆp1 † xT
ˆ ˆp1 = Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 xˆ = xˆ
{
1

Then, the position expectation value in the translated state is written as
x Tˆp1 y
= ( y , xˆ y )= x y

That is
x Tˆp1 y
= x y
(8)

26
Preliminaries

Since we didn’t make use of the fact that the state y is a QHO state, the relation (8)
holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-dimensional quantum system.
The momentum expectation value in the translated state is written as
p Tˆp1 y (
= Tˆp1 y , pT
ˆ ˆp1 y )=(y , Tˆp1 † pT
ˆ ˆp1 y )
Using (6), we obtain
Tˆp1 † pT
ˆ ˆp1 = pˆ + p1

Thus
p Tˆp1 y
= ( y , ( pˆ + p1 ) y )=(y , pˆ y )+ p (y1 ,y )= p y
+ p1

That is
p Tˆp1 y
= p y
+ p1 (9)

The relation (9) also holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-
dimensional quantum system.
As we did in the case of the spatial translation – see the previous exercise – we can
directly calculate the energy expectation value in the translated state. Alternatively,
we can calculate first the expectation values of the position squared and momentum
squared, since we’ll need them to calculate the respective uncertainties, and from
them we’ll derive the energy expectation value.
The expectation value of the position squared in the translated state is written as
x2 Tˆp1 y
(
= Tˆp1 y , xˆ 2Tˆp1 y )=(y , Tˆp1 † xˆ 2Tˆp1 y )
Using (7), we obtain
Tˆp1 † xˆ 2Tˆp1 = Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 xˆ 2 = xˆ 2
{
1

Thus
x2 = ( y , xˆ 2 y )= x2
Tˆp1 y y

That is
x2 = x2 (10)
Tˆp1 y y

The relation (10) also holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-
dimensional quantum system.
The expectation value of the momentum squared in the translated state is written as

p2 Tˆp1 y
(
= Tˆp1 y , pˆ 2Tˆp1 y )=(y , Tˆp1 † pˆ 2Tˆp1 y )
Using (6), we obtain

Tˆp1 † pˆ 2Tˆp1 = ( pˆ + p1 ) = pˆ 2 + 2 p1 pˆ + p12
2

Thus

27
Preliminaries

p2 Tˆp1 y
(
= y , ( pˆ 2 + 2 p1 pˆ + p12 ) y )=(y , pˆ 2 y )+ 2p ( y
1 , pˆ y ) + p (1y424
1
2
,y )=
3
1

= p 2
+ 2 p1 p y
+ p1 2
y

We remind that we’ve assumed that the bound, and thus normalizable, state y is
normalized.

That is
p2 = p2 + 2 p1 p y
+ p12 (11)
Tˆp1 y y

The relation (11) also holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-
dimensional quantum system.
Using the Hamiltonian of the QHO, the energy expectation value of the QHO in the
translated state is written as
p2
pˆ 2 1 Tˆp1 y 1
E Tˆp1 y
= Hˆ = + mw 2 xˆ 2 = + mw 2 x 2 Tˆp1 y
Tˆp1 y 2m 2 Tˆp1 y
2m 2

Substituting (10) and (11) yields
p2 + 2 p1 p y
+ p12 1 p2 1 p
y y
E Tˆp1 y
= + mw 2 x 2 y
= + mw 2 x 2 y + 1 p y
+
2m 2 2m 4224444
1444 3 m
E y

2 2
p p1 p
+ 1
= E y
+ p y
+ 1
2m m 2m
That is
p1 p12
E Tˆp1 y
= E y
+ p y
+ (12)
m 2m
Obviously, the relation (12) holds only for the states of the QHO.
If the untranslated state y is an energy eigenstate n , then p y
= 0 and
æ 1ö
E y
= En = ç n + ÷ hw . Then, (12) becomes
è 2ø

æ 1ö p2
E Tˆp1 n
= ç n + ÷ hw + 1 (13)
è 2ø 2m
Using (8) and (10), we derive that the position uncertainty in the translated state is the
same as in the untranslated state, i.e.
( Dx )Tˆ p1 y
= ( Dx ) y (14)

The relation (14) also holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-
dimensional quantum system.
Using (9) and (11), the momentum uncertainty in the translated state is written as

28
Preliminaries

( ) ( )
2 2
( Dp )Tˆ
p1 y
= p2 Tˆp1 y
- p Tˆp1 y
= p2 y
+ 2 p1 p y
+ p12 - p y
+ p1 =

æ
( p ) + 2p ö
2
= p2 + 2 p1 p y
+ p12 - ç y 1 p y
+ p12 ÷ =
y
è ø

( )
2
= p2 y
- p y
= ( Dp ) y

That is
( Dp )Tˆ
p1 y
= ( Dp ) y (15)

The momentum uncertainty in the translated state is the same as the momentum
uncertainty in the untranslated state.
The relation (15) also holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any one-
dimensional quantum system.
From (14) and (15), we derive that the position-momentum uncertainty product in the
translated state is the same as the position-momentum uncertainty product in the
untranslated state, and this also holds for every bound, and normalized, state of any
one-dimensional quantum system.

The combined action of a spatial and a momentum translation
operator

ˆ ö
æ ipx
4) Let Tˆx1 be a spatial translation operator, i.e. Tˆx1 º exp ç - 1 ÷ , and Tˆp1 be a
è h ø
æ ip xˆ ö
momentum translation operator, i.e. Tˆp1 º exp ç 1 ÷ .
è h ø
æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö
We also define the operator Tˆp1 , x1 º exp ç ÷.
è h ø
æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö æ i ( - px
ˆ 1 + p1 xˆ ) ö
Since exp ç ÷ = exp ç ÷ , the order of the two operators
è h ø è h ø
ˆ ˆ
doesn’t matter, and Tp1 , x1 = Tx1 , p1 .
We’ll show that the three operators Tˆx1Tˆp1 , Tˆp1Tˆx1 , and Tˆp1 , x1 differ only by a
constant phase, and thus they are physically equivalent.
This means that their action on a physical state – not necessarily a QHO state
– yields states that differ only by a constant phase, and thus they are
physically equivalent, i.e. they are the same state.

Solution
The physical equivalence of the three operators follows from the fact that the
é ip xˆ ipx
ˆ ù
commutator ê 1 , - 1 ú is a constant.
ë h h û
Indeed
é ip1 xˆ ipxˆ 1 ù æ ip1 öæ ix1 ö px ix p
êë h , - ú = ç ÷ ç - ÷ [ xˆ , pˆ ] = 1 2 1 ih = 1 1
h û è h øè h ø h h

29
Preliminaries

That is
é ip1 xˆ ipxˆ 1 ù ix1 p1
êë h , - = (1)
h úû h
Since the previous commutator is a constant, we can use the identity

( ) ( ) ( ) æ 1
è 2
ö
exp Aˆ + Bˆ = exp Aˆ exp Bˆ exp ç - éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ÷
ø

which holds if the operators Aˆ and Bˆ commute with their commutator éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû .
é ip xˆ ipx
ˆ ù
In our case, the commutator ê 1 , - 1 ú is a constant, and thus it commutes with
ë h h û
ip xˆ ˆ
ipx
both 1 and - 1 .
h h
Then, using the previous identity and the commutator (1), we obtain
æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö æ ip1 xˆ ipx
ˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö ˆ ö
æ ipx æ 1 ix1 p1 ö
exp ç ÷ = exp ç - 1 ÷ = exp ç 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç - ÷=
è h ø è h h ø è h ø è h ø è 2 h ø
æ ip xˆ ö æ ipxˆ ö æ ix p ö
= exp ç 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 1 ÷
è h ø è h ø è 2h ø
That is
æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 = Tˆp1Tˆx1 exp ç - 1 1 ÷
è 2h ø
æ ix p ö
The exponential exp ç - 1 1 ÷ is a constant complex number, and thus it commutes
è 2h ø
with both Tˆx1 and Tˆp1 .
Thus
æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 (2)
è 2h ø
Therefore, the operators Tˆp1Tˆx1 and Tˆp1 , x1 differ only by a constant phase.
Besides, from (1) we obtain
é ipxˆ 1 ip1 xˆ ù é ip1 xˆ ipx
ˆ 1ù ix1 p1
êë - h , h úû = - êë h , - h úû = - h ,

Thus, using again the previous identity, we obtain
æ ipxˆ ip xˆ ö ˆ ö
æ ipx æ ip xˆ ö æ 1 æ ix p ö ö
exp ç - 1 + 1 ÷ = exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç 1 ÷ exp ç - ç - 1 1 ÷ ÷ =
è h h ø è h ø è h ø è 2è h øø
æ ipxˆ ö æ ip xˆ ö æ ix p ö
= exp ç - 1 ÷ exp ç 1 ÷ exp ç 1 1 ÷
è h ø è h ø è 2h ø
That is

30
Preliminaries

ˆ
æ ipx ip xˆ ö æ ix p ö
exp ç - 1 + 1 ÷ = Tˆx1Tˆp1 exp ç 1 1 ÷
è h h ø è 2h ø
æ ix p ö
The exponential exp ç 1 1 ÷ is a constant complex number, and thus it commutes
è 2h ø
with both Tˆx1 and Tˆp1 .
Thus
ˆ
æ ipx ip xˆ ö æ ix p ö
exp ç - 1 + 1 ÷ = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1Tˆp1 (3)
è h h ø è 2h ø
Also
ˆ
æ ipx ip xˆ ö æ ip xˆ ipx
ˆ ö æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö
exp ç - 1 + 1 ÷ = exp ç 1 - 1 ÷ = exp ç ÷ = Tˆp1 , x1
è h h ø è h h ø è h ø
Thus, (3) is written as
æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1Tˆp1 (4)
è 2h ø
Therefore, the operators Tˆx1Tˆp1 and Tˆp1 , x1 differ only by a constant phase.
Besides, comparing (2) and (4) yields
æ ix p ö æ ix p ö
exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1Tˆp1 Þ
è 2h ø è 2h ø
æ ix p ö æ ix p ö æ ix p ö æ ix p ö
Þ exp ç 1 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1Tˆp1 Þ
è 2h ø è 2h ø è 2h ø è 2h ø
æ ix p ö
Þ Tˆp1Tˆx1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1Tˆp1
è h ø
That is
æ ix p ö
Tˆp1Tˆx1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1Tˆp1 (5)
è h ø
Therefore, the operators Tˆx1Tˆp1 and Tˆp1Tˆx1 differ only by a constant phase.

This means that the spatial translations commute with the momentum
translations, or, in other words, they are independent.

Returning back to the QHO – The displacement operator

æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö
5) For the QHO, express the operator Tˆp1 , x1 º exp ç ÷ in terms of the
è h ø
ladder operators and show that it is written as exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) , with

31
Preliminaries

1 æ x1 p1 ö h
l= ç + i ÷ , where x0 = is the length scale and p0 = mhw is the
2 è x0 p0 ø mw
momentum scale of the QHO.

Solution
Solving the definition relations of the ladder operators for the position and momentum
operators, we obtain
h
xˆ =
2mw
( aˆ + aˆ † )

mhw †
pˆ = i
2
( aˆ - aˆ )
Introducing into the previous relations the length and momentum scales of the QHO,
we obtain
x0
xˆ =
2
( aˆ + aˆ ) (1)

p0
pˆ = i
2
( aˆ †
- aˆ ) (2)

i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1)
By means of (1) and (2), the operator is written as
h
æ x p ö
i ç p1 0 ( aˆ + aˆ † ) - i 0 ( aˆ † - aˆ ) x1 ÷
i ( p1 x - px1 )
ˆ ˆ
h
= è
2
h
2
(
ø = 1 ix p aˆ + aˆ † + p x aˆ † - aˆ =
2h
0 1( ) 0 1( ) )
1 1
=
2h
( ix0 p1aˆ + ix0 p1aˆ † + p0 x1aˆ † - p0 x1aˆ ) =
2h
( ( p0 x1 + ix0 p1 ) aˆ † - ( p0 x1 - ix0 p1 ) aˆ )
That is
i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) 1
h
=
2h
( ( p0 x1 + ix0 p1 ) aˆ † - ( p0 x1 - ix0 p1 ) aˆ )
Using that x0 p0 = h , the previous equation is written as

i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) 1
h
=
2 x0 p0
( ( p0 x1 + ix0 p1 ) aˆ † - ( p0 x1 - ix0 p1 ) aˆ ) =
1 æ æ x1 p1 ö † æ x1 p1 ö ö æ 1 æ x1 p1 ö † 1 æ x1 p1 ö ö
= çç ç + i ÷ aˆ - ç - i ÷ aˆ ÷÷ = çç ç + i ÷ aˆ - ç - i ÷ aˆ ÷÷ =
2 è è x0 p0 ø è x0 p0 ø ø è 2 è x0 p0 ø 2 è x0 p0 ø ø
æ 1 æx p1 ö † æ 1 æ x1 p1 ö ö ö÷
*

=ç ç
1
+ i ÷ ˆ
a - ç
ç 2çx + i ÷ ÷ aˆ
ç 2 è x0 p0 ø è è p0 ø ÷ø ÷
è 0
ø
That is

32
Preliminaries

ˆ 1 ) æ 1 æ x1 öö ö
*
i ( p1 xˆ - px p ö † æ 1 æ x1 p
=ç ç + i ÷ aˆ - çç
1
ç + i ÷ ÷÷ aˆ ÷
1

h ç 2 è x0 p0 ø è 2 è x0 p0 ø ø ÷
è ø
Setting
1 æ x1 p1 ö
l= ç + i ÷ (3)
2 è x0 p0 ø
we end up to
i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1)
= ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) (4)
h
Thus, the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is written as

Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) (5)

In (5), the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is written in terms of one, but complex, parameter, the
parameter l , instead of the two real parameters x1 and p1 (the spatial and
momentum translations).
Since the parameters x1 and p1 can be any real number, from (3) we see that the
parameter l can be any complex number.
The operator exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) is called the displacement operator and it is usually
denoted by Dˆ ( l ) , i.e.

Dˆ ( l ) = exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) (6)

The parameter l is called the displacement parameter.
As we’ll see below, for each value of the displacement parameter l , the displacement
operator, acting on the ground state of the QHO, yields an eigenstate of the
annihilation operator, a so-called coherent state.
From (5) and (6), we have
Tˆp1 , x1 = Dˆ ( l ) (7)

æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö
where Tˆp1 , x1 º exp ç ÷.
è h ø
ˆ
That is, the operator Tp1 , x1 is the displacement operator.
Besides, in the previous exercise, we showed that the operator Tˆp1 , x1 differs from the
operators Tˆx1Tˆp1 and Tˆp1Tˆx1 only by a, physically unimportant, constant phase. Thus,
the action of the displacement operator is physically the same as the combined action
of a spatial and a momentum translation operator, or a momentum and a spatial
translation operator. In other words, the displacement operator, acting on an arbitrary
state of the QHO, yields a spatial and a momentum translation, or a momentum and a
spatial translation.

33
Preliminaries

æ i ( p1 xˆ - px
ˆ 1) ö
6) At t = 0 , a QHO is in the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 , where Tˆp1 , x1 º exp ç ÷.
è h ø
i) Show that the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 is normalized.
ii) Expand the state Tˆ 0 in the basis of the energy eigenstates of the QHO.
p1 , x1

iii) Write the time evolution of the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 for t > 0 .
iv) Show that the probability that the QHO is found in an energy eigenstate at
time t ³ 0 is given by a Poisson distribution. What is the parameter of the
distribution?

Solution
i) We showed in the exercise 4 that the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is written as

æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 (1)
è 2h ø
The Hermitian conjugate of Tˆp1 , x1 is then

æ ö
æ ix p ö æ ix p ö
( ) æ ix p ö

Tˆp1 , x1 † = ç exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 ÷ = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1 †Tˆp1 †
è è 2h ø ø è 2h ø è 2h ø
That is
æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 † = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1 †Tˆp1 † (2)
è 2h ø
Using (1) and (2), and that the operators Tˆx1 and Tˆp1 are unitary, we have

æ ix p ö æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 †Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1 †Tˆp1 † exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 =
è 2h ø è 2h ø
æ ix p ö æ ix p ö æ ix p ix p ö
= exp ç 1 1 ÷ exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1 † Tˆp1 †Tˆp1 Tˆx1 = exp ç 1 1 - 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1 †Tˆx1 = 1
è 2h ø è 2h ø { è 4 2h3ø {
2h2444
1 144 1
exp0 =1

Also
æ ix p ö æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1Tˆp1 , x1 † = exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1 exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆx1 †Tˆp1 † =
è 2h ø è 2h ø
æ ix p ö æ ix p ö æ ix p ix p ö
= exp ç - 1 1 ÷ exp ç 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1 Tˆx1 Tˆx1 † Tˆp1 † = exp ç - 1 1 + 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1 Tˆp1 † = 1
è 2h ø è 2h ø { 1 1444 è 22444 h 2h3ø {
1
exp0 =1

That is
Tˆp1 , x1 †Tˆp1 , x1 = Tˆp1 , x1Tˆp1 , x1 † = 1

Therefore, the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is unitary.

34
Preliminaries

æ ix1 p1 ö æ ix1 p1 ö
We remind that the terms exp ç - ÷ and exp ç ÷ , as constant complex
è 2h ø è 2h ø
numbers, commute with any of the above operators.

Since the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is unitary, it preserves the norms of the states on which it
acts, and thus

Tˆp1 , x1 0 = 0 = 1

Therefore, the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 is normalized.
¥
ii) Using the completeness relation of the energy eigenstates, i.e. ån
n =0
n = 1 , the

state Tˆp1 , x1 0 is written as

æ ¥ ö ¥ ¥
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = ç å n n ÷ Tˆp1 , x1 0 = å n n Tˆp1 , x1 0 = å n Tˆp1 , x1 0 n
è n =0 ø n =0 n =0

That is
¥
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = å n Tˆp1 , x1 0 n (3)
n= 0

This is the expansion of the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 in the energy basis of the QHO, but we
have to calculate the amplitude n Tˆ 0 .p1 , x1

To do that, we can use that – see the previous exercise –
Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ )

1 æ x1 p1 ö
where l = ç +i ÷.
2 è x0 p0 ø
We observe that
æ ö
éë l aˆ , -l aˆ ùû = l ( -l ) éë aˆ , aˆ ùû = - l - éë aˆ , aˆ ùû = l
ç † ÷
† * * † 2 2

ç 123 ÷
è 1 ø
That is
2
éë l aˆ † , -l *aˆ ùû = l (4)

Since the previous commutator is a constant, using the identity

( ) ( ) ( )
æ 1
è 2
ö
exp Aˆ + Bˆ = exp Aˆ exp Bˆ exp ç - éë Aˆ , Bˆ ùû ÷ ,
ø
for Aˆ = l aˆ † and Bˆ = -l * aˆ , we obtain
æ 1 2ö
exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) = exp ( l aˆ † ) exp ( -l * aˆ ) exp ç - l ÷
è 2 ø

35
Preliminaries

æ 1 2ö
The term exp ç - l ÷ is a constant, and thus we can move it to the left and write
è 2 ø
æ 1 2ö
exp ( l aˆ † - l *aˆ ) = exp ç - l ÷ exp ( l aˆ † ) exp ( -l * aˆ )
è 2 ø
Thus, the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is written as

æ 1 2ö
Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ç - l ÷ exp ( l aˆ † ) exp ( -l *aˆ ) (5)
è 2 ø
Then, to calculate the action of Tˆp1 , x1 on the ground state, we must first calculate the
action of exp ( -l *aˆ ) on the ground state.
Using the Taylor expansion of exp ( -l *aˆ ) , its action on the ground state is written as

æ ¥ ( -l *aˆ )m ö ¥
( -l * aˆ )
m
¥
( -l * ) m
m

exp ( -l * aˆ ) 0 = ç å ÷ 0 =å 0 =å aˆ 0
ç m= 0 m ! ÷ m =0 m! m= 0 m!
è ø

In the last equality, we used that aˆ commutes with the constant number -l * .

That is

exp ( -l * aˆ ) 0 = å
¥
( -l ) * m

aˆ m 0
m =0 m!
But, since aˆ kills the ground state,
aˆ m 0 = 0 if m = 1, 2,...

¥
( -l )
* m

Then, in the series å
m= 0 m!
aˆ m 0 only the first term, with m = 0 , survives.

Thus
exp ( -l *aˆ ) 0 = 0 (6)

Using (5) and (6), the action of Tˆp1 , x1 on the ground state is written as

æ 1 2ö
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ exp ( l aˆ † ) 0
è 2 ø
Using the Taylor expansion of exp ( l aˆ † ) , we obtain

36
Preliminaries

æ ¥ ( l aˆ † ) m ö æ ¥ ( l aˆ † )m ö
æ 1 2ö æ 1 2ö
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ ç å ÷ 0 = exp - l ç å
ç ÷ç 0 ÷=
è 2 ø ç m =0 m ! ÷ è 2 ø m= 0 m ! ÷
è ø è ø
æ 1 2 ö æ l †m ö
¥ m
= exp ç - l ÷ ç å aˆ 0 ÷
è 2 ø è m =0 m ! ø

In the last equality, we used that aˆ † commutes with the constant number l .

That is

æ 1 2 ö æ ¥ l †m ö
m
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ ç å aˆ 0 ÷ (7)
è 2 ø è m =0 m ! ø
Using that aˆ † n = n + 1 n + 1 , we have

aˆ † m 0 = aˆ †m-1 1 = 2aˆ †m- 2 2 = 2!aˆ †m -2 2 = 2! 3aˆ †m-3 3 =
= 3!aˆ † m -3 3 = ... = m ! a{
ˆ † m- m m = m ! m
aˆ † 0 =1

That is
aˆ † m 0 = m ! m (8)
By means of (8), (7) becomes

æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l ö
m
Tp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ ç å
ˆ m ÷ (9)
è 2 ø è m =0 m ! ø

Using (9), the amplitude n Tˆp1 , x1 0 is written as

æ æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l
m
öö
n Tp1 , x1 0 = n ç exp ç - l ÷ ç å
ˆ m ÷÷ =
è è 2 ø è m =0 m ! øø
æ 1 2ö æ ¥
l m
ö æ 1 2ö ¥ l
m
= exp ç - l ÷ n ç å m ÷ = exp ç - l ÷ å nm
è 2 ø è m= 0 m ! ø è 2 ø m =0 m !
That is
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
m
n Tˆp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ å n m (10)
è 2 ø m =0 m !
Using the orthonormality of the energy eigenstates, i.e. n m = d nm , the series
¥
lm
å
m =0 m!
n m becomes

¥
lm ¥
lm ln
å
m= 0 m!
n m =å
m =0 m!
d nm =
n!
Substituting into (10), we obtain

37
Preliminaries

æ 1 2ö l
n
ˆ
n Tp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ (11)
è 2 ø n!
Substituting the amplitude (11) into the expansion (3), we obtain
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ å n (12)
è 2 ø n =0 n !
1 æ x1 p1 ö
where l = ç +i ÷.
2 è x0 p0 ø
This is the expansion of the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 in the energy basis of the QHO.
Since Tˆ = Dˆ ( l ) , (12) is also written as
p1 , x1

æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
D ( l ) 0 = exp ç - l ÷ å
ˆ n (13)
è 2 ø n= 0 n !
iii) Denoting by n t
the time evolution of an energy eigenstate n , then

æ iE t ö
n t = exp ç - n ÷ n ,
è h ø
æ 1ö
with t ³ 0 and En = ç n + ÷ hw .
è 2ø
Then, using (12), the time evolution of the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 – let us denote it by y ( t ) –
is
ö ¥ l æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n n
æ 1 æ iE t ö
y ( t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å n t = exp ç - l ÷ å
2
exp ç - n ÷ n
2 è ø n =0 n ! è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø
That is
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
æ iE t ö
y (t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ n (14)
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø
with t ³ 0 and y ( 0 ) º Tˆp1 , x1 0 .

If the initial state is taken at t = t0 , instead of t = 0 , then the time evolution of an
energy eigenstate n is
æ iE ( t - t0 ) ö
n t = exp ç - n ÷n ,
è h ø
and the time evolution of the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 is then

æ 1 ö ¥ l
n
æ iE ( t - t0 ) ö
y ( t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å
2
exp ç - n ÷n
2è ø n =0 n ! è h ø
with t ³ t0 and y ( t0 ) º Tˆp1 , x1 0 .

38
Preliminaries

iv) The state of the QHO at t ³ 0 is given by (14).
The energy eigenstates are orthonormal, thus the probability amplitude that the QHO
is found in an energy eigenstate m , at time t ³ 0 , is m y ( t ) , which, using (14), is
written as
æ æ 1 2ö ¥ l æ iE t ö ö
n
m y ( t ) = m ç exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ n ÷ =
è è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø ø
æ 1 2ö æ ¥ ln æ iE t ö ö
= exp ç - l ÷ m ç å exp ç - n ÷ n ÷ =
è 2 ø è n= 0 n ! è h ø ø
æ 1 2ö ¥ l æ 1 2ö l
n m
æ iE t ö æ iE t ö
= exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ m n = exp ç - l ÷ exp ç - m ÷
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø{ d
è 2 ø m! è h ø
mn

That is
æ 1 2ö l
m
æ iE t ö
m y ( t ) = exp ç - m ÷ exp ç - l ÷ (15)
è h ø è 2 ø m!
Then, the probability that the QHO is found in an energy eigenstate m , at time
t ³ 0 , is
2
æ 1 2ö l
m
2 æ iE t ö
Pm ( t ) = m y ( t ) = exp ç - m ÷ exp ç - l ÷
è h ø è 2 ø m!

Using that for a complex number z , z = zz* , the probability Pm ( t ) becomes
2

*
æ æ 1 2 ö l öæ æ 1 2ö l ö
m m
æ iE t ö æ iEm t ö
Pm ( t ) = ç exp ç - m ÷ exp ç - l ÷ ÷ç exp -
ç h ÷ exp -
ç 2 l ÷ ÷ =
è è h ø è 2 ø m ! øè è ø è ø m! ø

æ 1 2 ö (l )
m *
æ 1 2ö l
m
æ iE t ö æ iE t ö
= exp ç - m ÷ exp ç - l ÷ exp ç m ÷ exp ç - l ÷
è h ø è 2 ø m! è h ø è 2 ø m!

Using that ( l m ) = ( l * ) , which follows from the property ( z1 z2 ...zm ) = z1* z2*...zm*
* m *

for z1 = z 2 = ... = zm = l , which, in turn, follows easily, by induction, from the
elementary property ( z1 z2 ) = z1* z2* , the probability Pm ( t ) becomes
*

æ 1 2 ö l (l )
m * m
æ iE t ö æ iE t ö æ 1 2ö
Pm ( t ) = exp ç - m ÷ exp ç m ÷ exp ç - l ÷ exp ç - l ÷ =
è h ø è h ø è 2 ø è 2 ø m ! m !
1444424444 3 14444 4244444 3
1
(
exp - l
2
)
( ll ) * m
(l )
2 m

(
= exp - l
2
) m!
(
= exp - l
2
) m!
That is

(l ) 2 m

(
Pm ( t ) = exp - l
2
) m!
(16)

39
Preliminaries

with m = 0,1,...
The probability (16) is time independent and it is given by a Poisson distribution with
2
parameter l .

Observe that

(l )
2 m
(l ) 2 m

å P ( t ) = å exp ( - l ) ( )å
¥ ¥ ¥
2 2
m = exp - l =1
m= 0 m= 0 m! m !3
1424
m =0

( )
exp l
2

That is, the probabilities (16) add up to 1, as they should.

1 æ x1 p1 ö 2
Using that l = ç + i ÷ , we obtain the parameter l in terms of the spatial
2 è x0 p0 ø
and the momentum translation, x1 and p1 , respectively. Then, we have

1 ææ x ö æ p ö ö
2 2
2
l = çç 1 ÷ + ç 1 ÷ ÷ (17)
2 ç è x0 ø è p0 ø ÷
è ø

40
The coherent states of the QHO

II. The coherent states of the QHO
7) The coherent states of the QHO are defined as the eigenstates of the
annihilation operator.
See, for instance, https://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/9708012v1.pdf.
i) If l is an eigenstate of the annihilation operator, i.e. if aˆ l = l l , with
l Î £ , show that Dˆ ( l ) 0 = l , i.e. the displacement operator, acting on the
ground state, generates the coherent states.
We remind that the eigenvalues of the annihilation operator are complex
numbers, because the annihilation operator is not Hermitian.
ii) Show that the coherent states are states of minimum position-momentum
uncertainty AND the two individual uncertainties, i.e. the position uncertainty
and the momentum uncertainty, are equally distributed, in the sense that
x p Dx Dp 1
Dx = 0 and Dp = 0 , or, in dimensionless form, = = , with x0 , p0
2 2 x0 p0 2
being, respectively, the length and momentum scales of the QHO. This
property, i.e. the equal distribution of the position uncertainty and the
momentum uncertainty, differentiates the coherent from the squeezed states,
which are also minimum position-momentum uncertainty states, but the two
individual uncertainties are NOT equally distributed.
iii) Calculate the energy expectation value and uncertainty in a coherent state.
iv) Using the expansion of the coherent state l in the energy basis of the
QHO, write its time evolution and show that although it remains a coherent
state, and thus a state of minimum position-momentum uncertainty, its
eigenvalue changes. What is the time evolution of the eigenvalue l ?

Solution
i) We’ll show that the states Dˆ ( l ) 0 and l have the same expansion in the energy
basis of the QHO, and thus they are the same state.
In the exercise 6, we showed that the expansion of the state Dˆ ( l ) 0 in the energy
basis of the QHO is
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
Dˆ ( l ) 0 = exp ç - l ÷ å n (1)
è 2 ø n= 0 n !
Let us now find the expansion of the state l .
Using the completeness relation of the energy eigenstates, the state l is written as

æ ¥
ö ¥ ¥
l = çå n n ÷ l = å n n l = å n l n
è n =0 ø n =0 n= 0

That is
¥
l = å n l n (2)
n= 0

Then, the action of the annihilation operator on the state l is written as

41
The coherent states of the QHO

æ ¥ ö ¥
aˆ l = aˆ ç å n l n ÷ = å n l aˆ n
è n =0 ø n =0
Using that aˆ n = n n - 1 , we obtain
¥
aˆ l = å n l n n -1
n =1

Changing the summation index to n¢ = n - 1 , we obtain
¥
aˆ l = å n¢ + 1 l n¢ + 1 n¢
n¢= 0

Renaming the summation index to n , we end up to
¥
aˆ l = å n + 1 l n + 1 n (3)
n= 0

Since the state l is eigenstate of aˆ with eigenvalue l ,

aˆ l = l l

Substituting (2) and (3) into the previous equation yields
¥
æ ¥ ö ¥ ¥

å
n= 0
n +1 l n +1 n = l ç å n l n ÷ Þ å n +1 n +1 l n = å l n l n Þ
è n =0 ø n =0 n= 0

( )n
¥
Þå n +1 n +1 l - l n l =0
n =0

Since the energy eigenstates are linearly independent, from the last equation we
obtain
n +1 n +1 l - l n l = 0 Þ n +1 n +1 l = l n l
Thus
l
n +1 l = n l (4)
n +1
with n = 0,1,...
Applying the recursive relation (4) repeatedly gives
l l l l l l
n +1 l = nl = n -1 l = n-2 l =
n +1 n +1 n n +1 n n -1
l l l l l l
= ... = ... n-n l = ... 0l =
n +1 n n -1 n - ( n - 1) n +1 1
l n+1
= 0l
( n + 1)!
That is

42
The coherent states of the QHO

l n+1
n +1 l = 0l
( n + 1)!
Thus
ln
nl = 0 l (5)
n!
The constant 0 l can be calculated using that the state l is normalized, i.e.
l l = 1.
Substituting (5) into (2) yields
¥
ln ¥
ln
l =å 0l n = 0l å n
n =0 n! n =0 n!
That is
¥
ln
l = 0l å
n =0 n!
n (6)

Then, the bra l is

¥
(l ) n * ¥
(l )
* n

å å
* *
l = 0l n = 0l n
n =0 n! n= 0 n!

where, in the last equality, we used that ( z1 z2 ...zn ) = z1* z2*...zn* , a complex number
*

property that follows easily, by induction, from the basic property ( z1 z2 ) = z1* z2* .
*

Thus, the bra l is

¥
(l ) * n

å
*
l = 0l n (7)
n =0 n!
Using (6) and (7), we obtain
æ ¥
(l )
* m ö
æ ¥
ln ö
l l =ç 0 l å m ÷ç 0 l å
*
n ÷=
ç m =0 m! ÷è n =0 n! ø
è ø
¥
(l )
* m
ln ¥
(l )
* m
ln
å å
* 2
= 0l 0l mn = 0l mn
m, n =0 m! n! m ,n = 0 m! n!

Since the two sums are independent, we use different summation indices.

Using the orthonormality of the energy eigenstates, i.e. m n = d mn , we obtain

43
The coherent states of the QHO

¥
(l ) * m
ln ¥
(l )
* n
ln ¥
( ll )
* n

å å å
2 2 2
l l = 0l d mn = 0 l = 0l =
m, n = 0 m! n! n =0 n! n! n =0 n!

(l ) 2 n

( )
¥

å
2 2 2
= 0l = 0l exp l
n =0 n!
That is

l l = 0l
2
exp l ( ) 2

Since the state l is normalized,

1= 0 l
2
exp l( )Þ 2
0l
2
(
= exp - l
2
)Þ æ 1 2ö
0 l = exp ç - l ÷
è 2 ø
Omitting the physically unimportant phase of 0 l , we end up to

æ 1 2ö
0 l = exp ç - l ÷ (8)
è 2 ø
Substituting (8) into (6) yields
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
l = exp ç - l ÷ å n (9)
è 2 ø n =0 n !
Comparing (1) and (9), we obtain
Dˆ ( l ) 0 = l (10)

ii) In the exercise 4, we showed that the operator Tˆp1 , x1 is written as

æ ix p ö
Tˆp1 , x1 = exp ç - 1 1 ÷ Tˆp1Tˆx1
è 2h ø
æ ix p ö
Then, since the term exp ç - 1 1 ÷ is a constant phase, the action of Tˆp1 , x1 on a
è 2h ø
physical state is equivalent, i.e. it is physically the same, to the action of Tˆp1Tˆx1 .
Since the operator Tˆ is the displacement operator Dˆ ( l ) , as shown in the exercise
p1 , x1

5, the action of Dˆ ( l ) is physically equivalent to the action of Tˆp1Tˆx1 .
Then, omitting the physically unimportant constant phase, we can write
Dˆ ( l ) 0 = Tˆp1Tˆx1 0
By means of (10), the previous equation becomes
l = Tˆp Tˆx 0 (11)
1 1

1 æ x1 p1 ö
with l = ç +i ÷.
2 è x0 p0 ø

44
The coherent states of the QHO

The equation (11) provides a nice intuitive picture of the coherent states, as it
tells us that they result from the application of spatial and momentum
translations to the ground state of the QHO.

We remind that, as also shown in the exercise 4, the order of the two translations
doesn’t matter, i.e.
Tˆp1Tˆx1 0 = Tˆx1Tˆp1 0
In the ground state of the QHO, the position and momentum uncertainties are,
respectively,
x0
( Dx ) 0 = (12)
2
p0
( Dp ) 0 = (13)
2
The position-momentum uncertainty product is then
x0 p0
( DxDp ) 0 =
2
Using that x0 p0 = h , we obtain
h
( DxDp ) 0 = (14)
2
The ground state is then a state of minimum position-momentum uncertainty.

The ground state is also a coherent state, since it is eigenstate of the annihilation
operator with eigenvalue 0, i.e. aˆ 0 = 0 0 .

In the exercise 2, we showed that the application of a spatial translation does not
change either the position or the momentum uncertainty.
Thus
( Dx )Tˆ
x1 0
= ( Dx ) 0

( Dp )Tˆ x1 0
= ( Dp ) 0

By means of (12) and (13), the previous two equations become, respectively,
x0
( Dx )Tˆ 0
= (15)
x1
2
p0
( Dp )Tˆ 0
= (16)
x1
2
Similarly, in the exercise 3, we showed that the application of a momentum
translation does not change either the position or the momentum uncertainty.
Thus, taking the state Tˆx1 0 as the initial state,

45
The coherent states of the QHO

( Dx )Tˆ Tˆ
p1 x1 0
= ( Dx )Tˆ
x1 0

( Dp )Tˆ Tˆ
p1 x1 0
= ( Dp )Tˆ
x1 0

By means of (15) and (16), the previous two equations become, respectively,
x0
( Dx )Tˆ Tˆ 0
=
p1 x1
2
p0
( Dp )Tˆ Tˆ 0
=
p1 x1
2
By means of (11), the previous two uncertainties are written as
x0
( Dx ) l = (17)
2
p0
( Dp ) l = (18)
2
By means of (17), (18), and the relation x0 p0 = h , we obtain
h
( DxDp ) l = (19)
2

Therefore, the coherent states are states of minimum position-momentum
uncertainty and the two individual uncertainties are equally distributed.

iii) The energy expectation value of the QHO in the coherent state l is

E l
= l Hˆ l

The Hamiltonian of the QHO is written as
æ 1ö
Hˆ = hw ç aˆ † aˆ + ÷
è 2ø
Thus
æ 1ö 1
E l
= l Hˆ l = E = l hw ç aˆ † aˆ + ÷ l = hw l aˆ † aˆ + l =
l
è 2ø 2
æ 1 ö æ 1ö
= hw ç l aˆ † aˆ l + l l ÷ = hw ç l l aˆ † l + ÷
ç 2 {÷ è 2ø
è 1 ø
where, in the last equality, we used that aˆ l = l l .
Thus
æ 1ö
E l
= ç l l aˆ † l + ÷ hw (20)
è 2ø

46
The coherent states of the QHO

Turning again – for more clarity – to the general notation for inner products, the inner
product l aˆ † l is written as ( l , aˆ † l ) , and using the definition of the Hermitian
conjugate of aˆ † , we have
æ ö
( l , aˆ † l ) = ç ( aˆ † ) l , l ÷ = ( aˆ l , l ) = ( l l , l ) = l * ( l , l )

ç{ ÷ 1424
3
è aˆ ø 1

Thus
l aˆ † l = l * (21)

Using (21) and that aˆ l = l l , we have
2
l aˆ †aˆ l = l l aˆ † l = ll * = l
That is
2
l aˆ †aˆ l = l (22)
Also, since Nˆ º aˆ † aˆ , (22) is the expectation value of the number operator in the
coherent state l .

By means of (21), (20) becomes
æ 2 1ö
E l
= ç l + ÷ hw (23)
è 2ø
This is the energy expectation value in the coherent state l .
Observe that the energy expectation value depends only on the magnitude of l , not
on its phase.
The energy uncertainty in the coherent state l is

( )
2
( DE ) l = E2 l
- E l

We’ll calculate the expectation value of the energy squared in the state l , which is

E2 = l Hˆ 2 l
l

Using the previous expression of the QHO Hamiltonian, we have
æ 1ö æ 1ö 2æ 1 öæ 1ö
Hˆ 2 = hw ç aˆ † aˆ + ÷ hw ç aˆ † aˆ + ÷ = ( hw ) ç aˆ † aˆ + ÷ç aˆ † aˆ + ÷ =
è 2ø è 2ø è 2 øè 2ø
æ ö
ç ÷
2ç † † 1 1 † 1÷ 2æ 1ö
= ( hw ) aˆ aa ˆ ˆ aˆ + aˆ aˆ + aˆ aˆ +

= ( hw ) ç aˆ † aa
ˆ ˆ † aˆ + aˆ † aˆ + ÷
ç 2244 2 3 4 ÷ è 4ø
çç 14 4 ÷÷
1 †
è 2 aˆ aˆ
2 ø
That is

47
The coherent states of the QHO


ˆ ˆ † aˆ + aˆ † aˆ + ö÷
1
Hˆ 2 = ( hw ) ç aˆ † aa
è 4ø
Then, the expectation value of the energy squared is written as

ˆ ˆ † aˆ + aˆ † aˆ + ö÷ l =
1
E2 = l ( hw ) ç aˆ † aa
l
è 4ø

ˆ ˆ † aˆ l + l aˆ † aˆ l + l l ö÷
1
= ( hw ) ç l aˆ † aa
è 4 ø
Using (22) and that the state l is normalized, we obtain


ˆ ˆ † aˆ l + l + ö÷ (24)
1
= ( hw ) ç l aˆ † aa
2
E2 l
è 4ø
We’ll now calculate the inner product l aˆ † aa
ˆ ˆ † aˆ l .
Using again the general notation for inner products, we have
æ ö æ ö
(
ˆ ˆ † aˆ l ÷ = l l , aˆ † ( aa
ˆ ˆ † aˆ l º ç l , aˆ † aa )) = l ç ( aˆ † ) l , aa

l aˆ †aa ˆ ˆ† l ˆ ˆ† l ÷ =
ç {÷ ç{ ÷
è ll ø è aˆ ø
æ ö
ç ˆ ˆ l ÷ = ll * ( l , aa
= l aˆ l , aa †
ˆ ˆ† l )
ç{ ÷
è ll ø
That is
l aˆ † aa
ˆ ˆ † aˆ l = l
2
(l
) (25)ˆ ˆ† l
, aa

To calculate the inner product ( l , aa
ˆˆ †
l ) , we use the commutator éë aˆ , aˆ † ùû = 1 to
ˆ ˆ † with 1+aˆ †aˆ .
replace aa
Thus, we have

(l ˆ ˆ† l
, aa ) = ( l , (1+aˆ aˆ ) l ) = ( l

, l ) + ( l , aˆ † aˆ l )
Using (22) and that (l ,l ) = 1 (the state l is normalized), we obtain

(l ˆ ˆ† l
, aa ) = 1+ l 2

Substituting into (25) yields
4 2
l aˆ † aa
ˆ ˆ † aˆ l = l + l (26)

By means of (26), (24) becomes

48
The coherent states of the QHO

æ ö
ç ÷
2æ 1ö 2ç 1÷
E l = ( hw ) ç l + l + l + ÷ = ( h w ) ç l + l + l + ÷ =
2 4 2 2 2 4 2

è 4ø ç 14 4244 4÷
3
ç æ 2 1ö
çl + ÷
2
÷
è è 2ø ø
2
2æ æ 2 1ö ö
( )
2
ææ 2 1 ö ö 2
= ( hw ) ç l + ç l + ÷ ÷ = ( l hw ) + ç ç l + ÷ hw ÷ = ( l hw ) + E
2 2 2

ç è 2 ø ÷ø èè 2ø ø l
è
where, in the last equality, we used (23).
Thus

( )
2
= ( l hw ) + E
2
E2 l
(27)
l

Then, the energy uncertainty in the coherent state l is

( ) -( E )
2 2
( DE ) l ( l hw )
2
= + E l l
= l hw

That is
( DE ) l = l hw (28)

Another way of calculating the energy expectation value and uncertainty in the
coherent state l is by using its expansion in the energy basis of the QHO.
In i, we showed that the state l is generated by the action of the displacement
operator in the ground state, i.e. l = Dˆ ( l ) 0 . Since the displacement operator is
the operator Tˆ , we have
p1 , x1

l = Tˆp , x 0 (29)
1 1

1 æ x1 p1 ö
with l = ç +i ÷.
2 è x0 p0 ø
Also, in the exercise 6, we showed that the expansion of the state Tˆp1 , x1 0 in the
energy basis of the QHO is
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
Tˆp1 , x1 0 = exp ç - l ÷ å n
è 2 ø n =0 n !
By means of (29), the previous expansion is written as
ö ¥ l
n
æ 1
l = exp ç - l ÷ å
2
n (30)
2 è ø n =0 n !
This is the expansion of the coherent state l in the energy basis of the QHO.
Using (30), the action of the Hamiltonian on the state l yields

49
The coherent states of the QHO

æ 1 2ö ¥ l ˆ æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n n
H l = exp ç - l ÷ å
ˆ H n = exp ç - l ÷ å En n
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è 2 ø n =0 n !
æ 1ö
Using that En = ç n + ÷ hw , we obtain
è 2ø

æ 1 2ö ¥ l æ
n

Hˆ l = exp ç - l ÷ å ç n + ÷ hw n =
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è 2ø
æ 1 2 öæ ¥ ln 1 ¥ ln ö
= exp ç - l ÷ ç å n n + å n ÷ hw
è 2 ø çè n =1 ( n - 1) ! 2 n =0 n ! ÷
ø
Changing the summation index of the first series to n¢ = n - 1 , we obtain
¥
ln ¥
l n¢+1
å n =å n¢ + 1 n¢ + 1
n =1 ( n - 1)! n¢ = 0 n¢ !

Changing again the summation index to n , we end up to
¥
ln ¥
l n+1
å n =å n +1 n +1
n =1 ( n - 1)! n= 0 n!

Thus, the action of the Hamiltonian on l yields

æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l 1 ¥ ln ö
n +1
H l = exp ç - l ÷ ç å
ˆ n +1 n +1 + å n ÷ hw (31)
è 2 ø è n= 0 n ! 2 n =0 n ! ø

From (30), the bra l is

æ 1 2 ö ¥ (l )
m *

l = exp ç - l ÷ å m (32)
è 2 ø m=0 m !
Using (31) and (32), the energy expectation value of the QHO in the state l is

E l
= l Hˆ l =

æ ( lm ) öæ
*
æ 1 2ö
¥
æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l
n +1
1 ¥ ln ö ö
= exp ç - l ÷ å
ç m ÷ ç exp ç - l ÷ ç å n +1 n +1 + å n ÷ hw ÷ =
ç è 2 ø m =0 m ! ÷è è 2 ø è n =0 n ! 2 n =0 n ! ø ø
è ø
æ ¥ ( l m )* n +1 ( lm ) ln
*
ö
( ) l ¥
1
= exp - l ç å n +1 m n +1 + å m n ÷ hw
2

ç m ,n = 0 m ! n ! 2 m, n =0 m ! n ! ÷
è ø
Using the orthonormality of the energy eigenstates, i.e.
m n + 1 = d m, n +1 and m n = d mn
we obtain

50
The coherent states of the QHO

æ ¥ ( l m )* n +1 ( lm ) ln
*
ö
( ) l ¥
1
ç må
ç n + 1d m ,n +1 + å d mn ÷ hw =
2
E l = exp - l
,n= 0 m! n! 2 m, n =0 m ! n ! ÷
è ø
æ ¥ ( l n +1 )
1 ¥ (l ) l n ÷
* n *
ö
= exp - l
2
(çå
ç
n= 0
)(
l n +1
n + 1) ! n !
n +1 + å
2 n= 0 n! n! ÷
hw =
è ø
æ ¥ ( l n +1 ) n +1
1 ¥ (l ) ln ÷
* n *
ö
2
(
= exp - l ç å
ç n= 0
) n!
l
+ å
n ! 2 n =0 n ! n ! ÷
hw =
è ø
æ ¥ (ln ) l* n
l l 1 ¥ (l ) l ÷
* n * n ö

= exp - l
2
(çå
ç
n= 0
) n!
+ å
n ! 2 n =0 n! ÷
hw =
è ø
æ ( l n ) l n 1 ¥ (ln ) l n ö
* *

( )
¥
= exp - l ç l l å + å ÷ hw =
2 *

ç n =0 n! 2 n= 0 n! ÷
è ø
æ 2
ö
1 öç ¥ l ÷
n

(
2 æ
= exp - l ç l + ÷ å
è
2
) 2 ø ç n =0 n ! ÷
hw
è ø
But

ln
2
( )
l
n 2
l
2n
( )
l
2 n

( )
¥ ¥ ¥ ¥

å =å =å =å
2
= exp l
n= 0 n! n =0 n! n =0 n! n =0 n!
Thus

E l
= exp - l( 2
) æçè l 2 1ö

2
( )
æ 2 1ö
+ ÷ exp l hw = ç l + ÷ hw
è 2ø
That is
æ 2 1ö
E l
= ç l + ÷ hw
è 2ø
which is the relation (23).
Working in a similar way, we have
æ 1 2ö ¥ l ˆ2 æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n n
Hˆ 2 l = exp ç - l ÷ å H n = exp ç - l ÷ å En 2 n =
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è 2 ø n =0 n !
2
æ 1 2 ö ¥ l ææ 1ö ö æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l æ 2 1ö ö
n n
= exp ç - l ÷ å n + ÷ hw ÷ n = exp ç - l ÷ ç å n + n + ÷ n ÷ ( hw ) =
2
ç ç ç
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è è 2ø ø è 2 ø è n= 0 n ! è 4ø ø
æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l æ 2 1ö ö
n
= exp ç - l ÷ ç å ç n + n + ÷ n ÷ ( hw )
2

è 2 ø è n= 0 n ! è 4ø ø

Using that n 2 = n ( n - 1) + n , we obtain

51
The coherent states of the QHO

æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l æ 1ö ö
n
Hˆ 2 l = exp ç - l ÷ ç å ç n ( n - 1) + 2n + ÷ n ÷ ( hw ) =
2

è 2 ø è n =0 n ! è 4ø ø

æ 1 2 ö æç ¥ ln ¥
ln 1 ¥ ln ö
= exp ç - l ÷ å n ( n - 1) n + 2å n n + å n ÷ ( hw ) =
2

è 2 ø çè n = 2 ( n - 2 ) ! n =1 ( n - 1) ! 4 n =0 n ! ÷
ø
æ 1 2 öæ l l ln ö
¥ n+ 2 ¥ n +1 ¥
1
= exp ç - l ÷ ç å ( n + 2 )( n + 1) n + 2 + 2å n +1 n +1 + å n ÷ ( hw )
2

è 2 ø è n= 0 n ! n =0 n! 4 n= 0 n ! ø

where, in the first series, we changed the summation index, first to n¢ = n - 2 , and
then again to n , and in the second series, we changed the summation index, first to
n¢¢ = n - 1 , and then again to n .
Thus
Hˆ 2 l =
æ 1 2 öæ ¥ l l n+1 1 ¥ ln ö
n+ 2 ¥
= exp ç - l ÷ ç å ( n + 2 )( n + 1) n + 2 + 2å å n ÷ ( hw ) (33)
2
n +1 n +1 +
è 2 ø è n =0 n ! n =0 n! 4 n =0 n ! ø

The expectation value of the energy squared in the state l is

E2 = l Hˆ 2 l
l

By means of (32) and (33), the previous expression becomes

E2
l ( (
= exp - l
2
))
æ ¥ ( l m )* n + 2 (l ) 1 ¥ (l ) ln
m * m * ö
çå l ¥
l n+1
( n + 2 )( n + 1)d m,n+ 2 + 2 å n + 1d m, n +1 + å d m , n ÷ ( hw )
2

ç m ,n = 0 m ! n ! m, n =0 m! n! 4 m, n =0 m ! n ! ÷
è ø

But

¥
(l )m *
l n +2 ¥
(l )m *
l n+1 1 ¥ (l ) ln
m *

å
m, n =0 m! n!
( n + 2 )( n + 1)d m,n+ 2 + 2 å
m ,n = 0 m! n!
n + 1d m, n +1 + å
4 m, n =0 m ! n !
d m ,n =


¥
(l )
n+2 *
l n+ 2
( n + 2)( n + 1) + 2å
¥
(l ) n +1 *
1 ¥ (l ) l n
l n+1
n +1 + å =
n *

n= 0 ( n + 2)! n! n =0 ( n + 1)! n! 4 n =0 n ! n !


¥
(l ) n+ 2 *
l n+ 2
+ 2å
¥
(l )
n +1 *
l n+1 1 ¥ (l ) ln
+ å =
n *

n= 0 n! n! n= 0 n! n ! 4 n =0 n ! n !


¥
(l ) (l )
n * 2 *
l nl 2
+ 2å
¥
(l ) l
n * *
l nl 1 ¥ (l ) ln
+ å =
n *

n= 0 n! n! n =0 n! n ! 4 n =0 n ! n !

= l2 (l
¥
(l ) n *
ln ¥
(l ) n *
ln 1 ¥ (l ) l n
n *


2 *

n! n!
+ 2ll * å
n!
+ å
n ! 4 n= 0 n! n!
=
n= 0 n =0

52
The coherent states of the QHO

æ * 1ö
= ç l 2 ( l 2 ) + 2ll * + ÷ å
æ ¥ ln 1ö
= ç l 2 ( l* ) + 2 l + ÷ å
2 2
2
¥ ( )
l
n 2

=
è 4 ø n =0 n ! è 4 ø n =0 n!

l
2n
( )
l
2 n

( ) +2 l
¥ ¥
æ 1ö æ 1ö
= ç ( ll * ) + 2 l + ÷ å
2 2
+ ֌
2 2 2
=ç l =
è 4 ø n= 0 n ! è 4ø1 n
424
n =0 !
3
( )
exp l
2

æ 4 2 1ö
= ç l + 2 l + ÷ exp l
è 4ø
2
( )
Thus

E2 l ( (
= exp - l
2
)) æçè l 4 2 1ö

2 2 æ 4
è
2
( )

+ 2 l + ÷ exp l ( hw ) = ç l + 2 l + ÷ ( hw ) =

2

2
æ æ 2 1 ö2 2ö ææ 2 1 ö ö
= ç ç l + ÷ + l ÷ ( hw ) = ç ç l + ÷ hw ÷ + ( l hw )
2 2

çè 2ø ÷ èè 2ø ø
è ø
That is
2
ææ 2 1 ö ö
= ( l hw )
2
E 2
+ ç ç l + ÷ hw ÷
l
èè 2ø ø
or, using (23),

( )
2
= ( l hw ) + E
2
E2 l
l

Therefore, the energy uncertainty in the coherent state l is

( ) ( )
2 2
( DE ) l = ( l hw ) + E
2
l
- E l
= l hw

That is
( DE ) l = l hw

which is the relation (28).
iv) As we saw, the expansion of the state l in the energy basis is given by (30).
Also, the time evolution of the energy eigenstate n is

æ iE t ö
n t = exp ç - n ÷ n
è h ø
Thus, the time evolution of the state l – let us denote it by l ( t ) – is

æ 1 2ö ¥ l æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n n
æ iE t ö
l (t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å n t = exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ n
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø
That is

53
The coherent states of the QHO

æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
æ iE t ö
l (t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ n (34)
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø
Then, the action of the annihilation operator on the time evolution of the coherent
state l yields

æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
æ iE t ö
aˆ l ( t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ aˆ n
è 2 ø n =0 n ! è h ø
Using that aˆ n = n n - 1 , we obtain

æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n
æ iE t ö
aˆ l ( t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ n n - 1 =
è 2 ø n =1 n ! è h ø
æ 1 2ö ¥ l n
æ iE t ö
= exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n ÷ n - 1
è 2 ø n =1 ( n - 1) ! è h ø

Changing the summation index to n¢ = n - 1 , we obtain
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n¢+1
æ iE t ö
aˆ l ( t ) = exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n¢+1 ÷ n¢ =
è 2 ø n¢=0 n¢! è h ø
æ 1 2ö ¥
l n¢
æ iE t ö
= l exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n¢+1 ÷ n¢
è 2 ø n¢=0 n¢! è h ø
æ 1ö
Besides, using that En = ç n + ÷ hw , we derive that
è 2ø
En¢+1 = En¢ + hw

Substituting into the expression of aˆ l ( t ) , we obtain

æ 1 2ö ¥ l

æ i ( En¢ + hw ) t ö
ˆa l ( t ) = l exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - ÷ n¢ =
è 2 ø n¢= 0 n¢! è h ø
æ 1 2ö ¥ l
n ¢
æ iE t ö
= l exp ( -iwt ) exp ç - l ÷ å exp ç - n¢ ÷ n¢ = l exp ( -iwt ) l ( t )
è 2
1444444 n¢!
ø n¢=0424444444è h ø 3
l (t )

That is
aˆ l ( t ) = l exp ( -iwt ) l ( t ) (35)

Therefore, the state l ( t ) is an eigenstate of the annihilation operator, and thus it
remains a coherent state, but its eigenvalue, l exp ( -iw t ) , changes periodically with
time.
We observe that the magnitude of the eigenvalue of l ( t ) is

l exp ( -iwt ) = l exp ( -iwt ) = l
14243
1

54
The coherent states of the QHO

That is, the magnitude of the eigenvalue of l ( t ) is constant.

To summarize, the time evolution of a coherent state is a coherent state with
eigenvalue having constant magnitude l and time-dependent phase exp ( -iwt ) .

8) Express the energy expectation value in a coherent state l of the QHO in
terms of the expectation values of the position and momentum.

Solution
In the previous exercise, we showed that the energy expectation value in a coherent
state l is

æ 2 1ö
E l
= ç l + ÷ hw (1)
è 2ø
Since the state l is an eigenstate of aˆ with eigenvalue l , we have

aˆ l = l l

Then, the expectation value of aˆ in the state l is

aˆ = l aˆ l = l l l = l l l
l {
1

That is
aˆ l
= l (2)

In terms of the length and momentum scales, the annihilation operator is written as
1 æ xˆ pˆ ö
aˆ = ç +i ÷
2 è x0 p0 ø
Thus

1 æ x l p l ö
aˆ = ç +i ÷
l
2 çè x0 p0 ÷
ø
Comparing the previous equation with (2) yields

1 æ x l p l ö
ç +i ÷ = l = Re l + i Im l
2 çè x0 p0 ÷
ø
or

1 x l 1 p l
+i = Re l + i Im l
2 x0 2 p0
Since the expectation values of the position and momentum are real, the previous
equation gives

55
The coherent states of the QHO

1 x l
Re l = (3)
2 x0

1 p l
Im l = (4)
2 p0
Using (3) and (4), the square of the magnitude of l is
æ 2 2
ö
1 çæ x l ö æ p l ö
÷
l = ( Re l ) + ( Im l )
2 2 2
= ç ÷ +ç ÷
2 ç ç x0 ÷ ç p0 ÷ ÷
èè ø è ø ø
That is
æ 2 2
ö
1 çæ x l
2
ö æ p l ö
÷ (5)
l = ç ÷ +ç ÷
2 ç ç x0 ÷ ç p0 ÷ ÷
èè ø è ø ø
By means of (5), (1) becomes
æ 2 2
ö
1 çæ x l ö æ p l ö
E = ç ÷ +ç ÷ + 1 ÷ hw
l
2 ç ç x0 ÷ ç p0 ÷ ÷
èè ø è ø ø
h
Substituting x0 = and p0 = mhw into the previous expression, we obtain
mw
æ
( x ) +( p ) ö æ
( p )
ö
2 2 2

1ç ÷ 1ç
(x ) ÷
l l 2 l
E = ç + 1÷ hw = ç mw 2 + + hw ÷ =
l
2ç h mhw ÷ 2ç l
m ÷
è mw ø è ø

( )
2
p 1
( x ) + h2w
l 2
= + mw 2 l
2m 2
That is

( p )
2

1
( x ) + h2w (6)
l 2
E l
= + mw 2 l
2m 2
hw hw
Observe that E ³
, as expected, since
l
is the ground-state energy of the
2 2
QHO, and the equality holds if and only if the expectation values of the position and
momentum are both zero in the coherent state l . There is only one coherent state in
which the position and momentum expectation values are both zero, and that coherent
state is the ground state.
In the previous exercise (question ii), we showed that
l = Tˆp Tˆx 0 (7)
1 1

56
The coherent states of the QHO

Using (7), it is easily shown that x l
= x1 and p l
= p1 .
Then, (6) is written as
p12 1 hw
E l
= + mw 2 x12 + (8)
2m 2 2
hw
We see that E l
= if and only if x1 = 0 and p1 = 0 , thus if and only if
2
ˆ Tˆ 0 = 0
l = T{0 {0
1 1

hw
Therefore, E l
= if and only if the coherent state is the ground state of the
2
QHO.

9) Calculate the wave functions describing a coherent state l in the position
and momentum representations, respectively. Express the results in terms of
the expectation values of the position and momentum.

Solution
The wave function of the state l in the position representation is

y l ( x) = x l
In the exercise 7 (question ii), we showed that
l = Tˆp Tˆx 01 1

Then, the wave function y l ( x ) is written as

y l ( x ) = x Tˆp Tˆx 0 = Tˆp ( x ) Tˆx ( x ) x 0 = Tˆp ( x ) Tˆx ( x )y 0 ( x )
1 1 1 1 { 1 1

y 0 ( x)

That is
y l ( x ) = Tˆp ( x ) Tˆx ( x )y 0 ( x ) (1)
1 1

where, by Tˆp1 ( x ) we denote the momentum translation operator Tˆp1 in the position
representation, by Tˆx1 ( x ) we denote the spatial translation operator Tˆx1 in the position
representation, and y 0 ( x ) is the ground-state wave function of the QHO in the
position representation.
d
In the position representation, xˆ = x and pˆ = -ih .
dx
Thus
æ ip x ö
Tˆp1 ( x ) = exp ç 1 ÷
è h ø
and

57
The coherent states of the QHO

æ æ d ö ö
ç i ç -ih dx ÷ x1 ÷
Tˆx1 ( x ) = exp ç - è ø ÷ = exp æ - x d ö
ç 1 ÷
ç h ÷ è dx ø
ç ÷
è ø
Substituting into (1) yields
æ ip1 x ö æ d ö
y l ( x ) = exp ç ÷ exp ç - x1 ÷y 0 ( x ) (2)
è h ø è dx ø
æ d ö
Using the Taylor expansion of exp ç - x1 ÷ , i.e.
è dx ø
n
æ d ö
¥ ç
- x1 ÷
( - x1 ) d n
n
¥
æ d ö è dx ø
exp ç - x1 ÷ = å =å
è dx ø n =0 n! n =0 n ! dx n
we obtain

æ d ö æ ¥ ( - x1 )n d n ö ¥
( - x1 ) d n
n

exp ç - x1 ÷y 0 ( x ) = ç å ÷y ( x ) = å y 0 ( x) =
è dx ø ç n = 0 n ! dx n ÷ 0 n ! dx n
è ø n =0

( - x1 ) y 0(n ) ( x )
n
¥ ¥
=å y 0 ( x) = å
( n)
( - x1 ) = y 0 ( x - x1 )
n

n= 0 n! n =0 n!

We remind that the Taylor series of a (proper) function f ( x ) about x¢ is

f ( x) = å
¥
f(
m)
( x¢ )
( x - x¢ )
m =0 m!

Thus
æ d ö
exp ç - x1 ÷y 0 ( x ) = y 0 ( x - x1 ) (3)
è dx ø

Obviously, (3) also holds for an arbitrary function y ( x ) that has derivatives of all
orders.

By means of (3), (2) becomes
æ ip1 x ö
y l ( x ) = exp ç ÷y 0 ( x - x1 ) (4)
è h ø
Using that x1 = x l
and p1 = p l
, (4) becomes

æi p xö
y l ( x ) = exp ç
ç h
l
÷y 0 x - x
÷ ( l ) (5)
è ø

58
The coherent states of the QHO

This is the wave function of the coherent state l in the position representation,
expressed in terms of the position and momentum expectation values.
1 1 æ 1 æ x ö2 ö
Using that y 0 ( x ) = exp ç - ç ÷ ÷ , the wave function y l ( x ) takes the
x0 4
1
ç 2 è x0 ø ÷
p è ø
form
æ æ x- x ö i p l xö
2
1 1 ç- 1 ç ÷ (6)
y l ( x) =
l
exp ÷ +
x0 4
1
ç 2ç x0 ÷ h ÷
p è è ø ø
h
where x0 = is the length scale of the QHO.
mw
The wave function y% l ( p ) , i.e. the wave function describing the coherent state l in
the momentum representation, can be calculated by taking the Fourier transform of
the wave function y l ( x ) , i.e.
1
¥
æ 1 ö2 æ ipx ö
y% l ( p ) = ç ÷ ò dxy l ( x ) exp ç - ÷
è 2p h ø -¥ è h ø
Since the wave function y l ( x ) is Gaussian, the previous integral can be calculated
using that
¥
p æ b2 ö
ò dx exp ( - ax 2 + bx + c ) = exp ç + c ÷ , with a > 0

a è 4a ø
See, for instance, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaussian_integral.
Alternatively, we may again use that
l = Tˆp Tˆx 0
1 1

or better, that
l = Tˆx Tˆp 0
1 1

We remind that, as shown in the exercise 4, the operators Tˆp1 Tˆx1 and Tˆx1 Tˆp1 differ
only by a constant phase, and thus their action on an arbitrary state is physically the
same.

Using the previous equation, the wave function y% l ( p ) = p l is written as

y% l ( p ) = p Tˆx Tˆp 0 = Tˆx ( p ) Tˆp ( p ) p 0 = Tˆx ( p ) Tˆp ( p )y% 0 ( p )
1 1 1 1 { 1 1

y% 0 ( p )

That is
y% l ( p ) = Tˆx ( p ) Tˆp ( p )y% 0 ( p ) (7)
1 1

59
The coherent states of the QHO

where, by Tˆx1 ( p ) we denote the spatial translation operator Tˆx1 in the momentum
representation, by Tˆ ( p ) we denote the momentum translation operator Tˆ in the
p1 p1

momentum representation, and y% 0 ( p ) is the ground-state wave function of the QHO
in the momentum representation.
d
In the momentum representation, xˆ = ih and pˆ = p .
dp
Thus
æ ipx ö
Tˆx1 ( p ) = exp ç - 1 ÷
è h ø
æ d ö
ç ip1ih dp ÷ æ d ö
Tˆp1 ( p ) = exp ç ÷ = exp ç - p1 ÷
ç h ÷ è dp ø
ç ÷
è ø
Substituting into (7) yields
æ ipx1 ö æ d ö
y% l ( p ) = exp ç - ÷ exp ç - p1 ÷y% 0 ( p )
è h ø è dp ø
From (3), it is obvious that
æ d ö
exp ç - p1 ÷y% 0 ( p ) = y% 0 ( p - p1 )
è dp ø

Then, the wave function y% l ( p ) is written as

æ ipx1 ö %
y% l ( p ) = exp ç - ÷y 0 ( p - p1 )
è h ø
Using again that x1 = x l
and p1 = p l
, we end up to

æ ip x ö
y% l ( p ) = exp ç -
ç h
l
(
÷y% 0 p - p
÷ l ) (8)
è ø
This is the wave function of the coherent state l in the momentum representation,
expressed in terms of the position and momentum expectation values.
1 1 æ 1 æ p ö2 ö
Using that y% 0 ( p ) = exp ç - ç ÷ ÷ , the wave function y% l ( p ) takes the
p0 4
1
ç 2 è p0 ø ÷
p è ø
form
æ æ p- p
2
ö ip x ö
1 1 ç-1ç ÷ (9)
y% l ( p ) =
l l
exp ÷ -
p0 4
1
ç 2ç p0 ÷ h ÷
p è è ø ø

Note

60
The coherent states of the QHO

The energy eigenfunctions of the QHO in the position representation, i.e. the
functions y n ( x ) , and the energy eigenfunctions of the QHO in the momentum
x® p
x0 ® p0
}
representation, i.e. the functions y% n ( p ) , are related by y n ( x ) ® y% n ( p ) and
p® x
p0 ® x0
}
y% n ( p ) ® y n ( x ) .
In other words, the functions y% n ( p ) are derived from y n ( x ) by replacing
position with momentum and the length scale with the momentum scale, and,
likewise, the functions y n ( x ) are derived from y% n ( p ) by replacing momentum
with position and the momentum scale with the length scale.
This is a unique property of the QHO, which is due to the form of the harmonic
oscillator potential.

10) Find the time evolution of the wave functions y l ( x ) and y% l ( p ) of the
previous exercise.

Solution
In the exercise 7, we showed that the state l ( t ) , which is the time evolution of the
coherent state l , is also a coherent state, but with time-varying eigenvalue

l ( t ) = l exp ( -iwt ) (1)

Since the state l ( t ) is a coherent state, it can be written as

l ( t ) = Tˆp (t )Tˆx (t ) 0 (2)
1 1

1 æ x1 ( t ) p (t ) ö
with l ( t ) = ç +i 1 ÷.
2 è x0 p0 ø

We remind that, as shown in the exercise 7 (question ii), the coherent state l is
1 æ x1 p1 ö
written as l = Tˆp1Tˆx1 0 , with l = ç +i ÷.
2 è x0 p0 ø

Then, the time evolution of the wave function y l ( x ) , which describes the state l ,
is the wave function
y l ( x, t ) = x l ( t ) (3)

which describes the state l ( t ) .
Using (2), (3) becomes
y l ( x, t ) = x Tˆp (t )Tˆx (t ) 0 = Tˆp (t ) ( x ) Tˆx (t ) ( x ) x 0 = Tˆp (t ) ( x ) Tˆx (t ) ( x )y 0 ( x )
1 1 1 1 { 1 1

y 0 ( x)

61
The coherent states of the QHO

That is
y l ( x, t ) = Tˆp (t ) ( x ) Tˆx (t ) ( x )y 0 ( x ) (4)
1 1

where, by Tˆp1 ( t ) ( x ) we denote the momentum translation operator Tˆp1 ( t ) in the position
representation, by Tˆx1 ( t ) ( x ) we denote the spatial translation operator Tˆx1 ( t ) in the
position representation, and y 0 ( x ) is the ground-state wave function of the QHO in
the position representation, i.e.

1 1 æ 1 æ x ö2 ö
y 0 ( x) = exp ç - ç ÷ ÷
x0 4
1
ç 2 è x0 ø ÷
p è ø
d
In the position representation, xˆ = x and pˆ = -ih .
dx
Thus
æ ip ( t ) x ö
Tˆp1 ( t ) ( x ) = exp ç 1 ÷
è h ø
æ æ d ö ö
ç i ç -ih dx ÷ x1 ( t ) ÷
÷ = exp æç - x1 ( t ) ö÷
d
Tˆx1 ( t ) ( x ) = exp ç - è ø
ç h ÷ è dx ø
ç ÷
è ø

Since the function x1 ( t ) depends only on time, it commutes with the operator
d
.
dx

Thus
æ ip1 ( t ) x ö æ d ö
y l ( x, t ) = exp ç ÷ exp ç - x1 ( t ) ÷y 0 ( x ) (5)
è h ø è dx ø
In the previous exercise, we proved that
æ d ö
exp ç - x1 ÷y 0 ( x ) = y 0 ( x - x1 )
è dx ø
Then, obviously,
æ d ö
exp ç - x1 ( t ) ÷y 0 ( x ) = y 0 ( x - x1 ( t ) )
è dx ø
Substituting into (5) yields
æ ip1 ( t ) x ö
y l ( x, t ) = exp ç ÷y 0 ( x - x1 ( t ) ) (6)
è h ø

62
The coherent states of the QHO

In the exercise 8, we explained that for the coherent state l = Tˆp1Tˆx1 0 , it holds that
x l
= x1 and p l
= p1 .
Then, for the state (2) we have x l (t )
= x1 ( t ) and p l (t )
= p1 ( t ) .
Thus, (6) becomes
æi p xö
y l ( x, t ) = exp ç
ç
l (t )

h
(
÷y 0 x - x
÷ l (t ) ) (7)
è ø
Since the state l ( t ) is the time evolution of the state l , the expectation values
x l (t )
and p l (t )
are the time evolution of the expectation values x l
and p l
.

1 æ x1 p1 ö 1 æ x1 ( t ) p (t ) ö
Besides, substituting l = ç + i ÷ and l ( t ) = ç + i 1 ÷ into (1),
2 è x0 p0 ø 2 è x0 p0 ø
we obtain
1 æ x1 ( t ) p ( t ) ö 1 æ x1 p1 ö
ç +i 1 ÷ = ç + i ÷ exp ( -iwt ) =
2 è x0 p0 ø 2 è x0 p0 ø
1 æ x1 p1 ö
= ç + i ÷ ( cos wt - i sin wt ) =
2 è x0 p0 ø
1 æ x1 x1 p1 p1 ö
= ç cos w t - i sin wt + i cos wt + sin wt ÷ =
2 è x0 x0 p0 p0 ø
1 æ x1 p1 æ p1 x1 öö
= çç cos wt + sin w t + i ç cos wt - sin wt ÷ ÷÷
2 è x0 p0 è p0 x0 øø
That is

1 æ x1 ( t ) p ( t ) ö 1 æ x1 p1 æ p1 x1 öö
ç +i 1 ÷ = çç cos w t + sin wt + i ç cos wt - sin wt ÷ ÷÷
2 è x0 p0 ø 2 è x0 p0 è p0 x0 øø
or
x1 ( t ) p ( t ) x1 p æp x ö
+i 1 = cos w t + 1 sin wt + i ç 1 cos wt - 1 sin wt ÷
x0 p0 x0 p0 è p0 x0 ø
Since the translations x1 ( t ) and p1 ( t ) are real, the previous equation gives

x1 ( t ) x1 p
= cos wt + 1 sin wt (8)
x0 x0 p0

p1 ( t ) p1 x
= cos wt - 1 sin wt (9)
p0 p0 x0
From (8) we obtain
x0
x1 ( t ) = x1 cos wt + p1 sin wt
p0

63
The coherent states of the QHO

Substituting the length and momentum scales into the previous equation yields
p1
x1 ( t ) = x1 cos wt + sin wt
mw
Since x l (t )
= x1 ( t ) , the previous equation gives

p1
x l (t )
= x1 cos wt + sin w t (10)
mw
Similarly, from (9) we obtain
p1 ( t ) = -mw x1 sin wt + p1 cos wt

Since p l (t )
= p1 ( t ) , the previous equation gives

p l (t )
= - mw x1 sin wt + p1 cos wt (11)

Thus, to summarize, the time evolution of the wave function y l ( x ) is given by (7),
where the expectation values x l (t )
and p l (t )
are given by (10) and (11),
respectively.
In the same way, we find that the time evolution of the wave function y% l ( p ) is the
wave function
æ ip x ö
y% l ( p, t ) = exp ç -
ç h
l (t )
(
÷y% 0 p - p
÷ l (t ) ) (12)
è ø

1 1 æ 1 æ p ö2 ö
where y% 0 ( p ) = exp ç - ç ÷ ÷ is the ground-state wave function of the
p0 4
1
ç 2 è p0 ø ÷
p è ø
QHO in the momentum representation.
We leave to the reader to verify (12).

11) Overlap and overcompleteness of the coherent states.
i) Calculate the overlap between two coherent states l and l ¢ . What do
you observe?
ii) Show that the set of all coherent states satisfy a completeness relation.

Solution
i) Using the expansion of a coherent state in the energy basis of the QHO, which we
proved in the exercise 7, we have
ö ¥ l
n
æ 1
l = exp ç - l ÷ å
2
n
2 è ø n =0 n !
Thus

æ 1 ¢ 2 ö ¥ (l ¢ )
m *

l = exp ç - l ÷ å
¢ m
è 2 ø m= 0 m !

64
The coherent states of the QHO

Then, the inner product l ¢ l is written as

æ ( l ¢m ) ö
*
¥
æ æ 1 2ö ¥ l ö
n
æ 1 2ö
l ¢ l = exp ç - l ¢ ÷ å
ç m ÷ ç exp ç - l ÷ å n ÷=
ç è 2 ø m =0 m ! ÷è è 2 ø n =0 n ! ø
è ø

æ 1 ¢ 2 1 2 ö ¥ (l ¢ ) l
m *
n
= exp ç - l - l ÷ å mn
è 2 2 ø m ,n = 0 m ! n !
Using the orthonormality of the energy eigenstates, i.e. m n = d mn , we obtain

æ 1 2 1 2 ö ¥ ( l¢ ) l
n m *

l ¢ l = exp ç - l ¢ - l ÷ å d mn =
è 2 2 ø m ,n = 0 m ! n !

æ 1 2 1 2 ö ¥ (l¢ ) l
n * n

= exp ç - l ¢ - l ÷ å
è 2 2 ø n =0 n!

Now, using that ( l ¢n ) = ( l ¢* ) , we obtain
* n

æ 1 ¢ 2 1 2 ö ¥ (l¢ ) l æ 1 ¢ 2 1 2 ö ¥ ( l¢ l )
* n n * n

l l = exp ç - l - l ÷ å
¢ = exp ç - l - l ÷ å =
è 2 2 ø n =0 n! è 2 2 ø 14
n =0 n !3
24
(
exp l ¢*l )
æ 1 2 1 2ö æ 1 2 1 2 ö
= exp ç - l ¢ - l ÷ exp ( l ¢*l ) = exp ç - l ¢ - l + l ¢*l ÷ =
è 2 2 ø è 2 2 ø
æ 1 2
( 2
= exp ç - l + l ¢ - 2ll ¢* ÷
è 2
ö
ø
)
That is

l ¢ l = exp ç -
æ 1
è 2
(2 2 ö
l + l ¢ - 2ll ¢* ÷ (1)
ø
)
If l ¹ l ¢ , (1) gives l ¢ l ¹ 0 , i.e. the states are not orthogonal, they overlap.
The annihilation operator is not Hermitian, thus two eigenstates with different
eigenvalues, i.e. two different coherent states, are not orthogonal.
2 2
We’ll now write the term l + l ¢ - 2ll ¢* as a square plus or minus something.
We have
2 2
l + l ¢ - 2ll ¢* = ll * + l ¢l ¢* - ll ¢* - ll ¢* = ll *
1444 + l ¢l4 - ll ¢* - l *3
¢*24444 l ¢ + l *l ¢ - ll ¢* =
( l - l ¢ )( l - l ¢ ) * *

= ( l - l ¢ ) ( l * - l ¢* ) + l *l ¢ - ( l *l ¢ ) = ( l - l ¢ )( l - l ¢ ) + 2i Im ( l *l ¢ ) =
* *

14 4244 3
(
2 i Im l *l ¢ )
= l - l ¢ + 2i Im ( l *l ¢ )
2

That is

65
The coherent states of the QHO

l + l ¢ - 2ll ¢* = l - l ¢ + 2i Im ( l *l ¢ )
2 2 2

Substituting into (1) yields
æ 1
l ¢ l = exp ç -
è 2
2
( ö
ø
æ 1
è 2
2
) ö
l - l ¢ + 2i Im ( l *l ¢ ) ÷ = exp ç - l - l ¢ - i Im ( l *l ¢ ) ÷ =
ø
æ 1
è 2

= exp ç - l - l ¢ ÷ exp -i Im ( l *l ¢ )
ø
( )
That is

( )
l ¢ l = exp -i Im ( l *l ¢ ) exp ç - l - l ¢ ÷ (2)
è 2 ø
æ 1 2 ö

The overlap between the two coherent states is the absolute value of l ¢ l , i.e.

æ 1 2 ö
l ¢ l = exp ç - l - l ¢ ÷ (3)
2 è ø
Since l - l ¢ ³ 0 , the maximum overlap happens when l = l ¢ , i.e. when the two
eigenvalues are equal, i.e. when the two coherent states coincide, and it is equal to the
norm of the state to the square, i.e. 1.
If the distance between the eigenvalues of the two coherent states is large, then the
term l - l ¢ is large, and the overlap between the two states is very small.
On the contrary, if the distance between the two eigenvalues is small, i.e. if the
eigenvalues are close to each other in the complex plane, the overlap tends to 1.
ii) Using again the expansion of a coherent state in the energy basis of the QHO, the
integral ò d l l l , where l Î £ , is written as

æ 1 2 ö ¥ (l )
æ m * ö
æ æ 1 2ö ¥ l öç
n

ò d l l l = ò çè çè 2 ÷ø å
d l exp - l
n =0
n ÷
n! ø ç
exp ç -
è 2
l ֌
ø m= 0 m !
m ÷=
÷
è ø
(l )* m
ln
( )å
¥
= ò d l exp - l
2
n m
m ,n = 0 m !n !
In polar coordinates, the complex number l is written as l = reij . Thus, its complex
conjugate l * is l * = re- ij . In polar coordinates, the differential d l is written as
d l = rdrdj , where r is from 0 to ¥ , while the polar angle j is from 0 to
2p (excluded). Thus

l = ò rdrdj exp ( -r
¥
( re ) ( re )
- ij m ij n

ò dl l
2
)å m !n !
n m =
m ,n = 0

r m + ne (
¥ i n - m )j
= ò rdrdj exp ( - r 2 ) å n m =
m ,n = 0 m !n !
¥ æ 2p i ( n - m )j ö æ
¥
ö n m
= å çò d j e ÷ ç ò drr
m + n +1
exp ( - r 2 ) ÷
m, n =0 è 0 øè 0 ø m !n !

66
The coherent states of the QHO

2p
i ( n - m )j
The integral ò dj e
0
is zero when m ¹ n and 2p when m = n , i.e.

2p
i ( n - m )j
ò dj e
0
= 2pd mn

Thus, the integral ò d l l l becomes
¥ æ¥ ö n m
ò d l l l = å 2pd mn ç ò drr m + n +1
exp ( - r 2
) ÷ =
m ,n = 0 è0 ø m !n !
¥ æ¥ ö n n
= 2p å ç ò drr 2 n +1exp ( -r 2 ) ÷
n =0 è 0 ø n!
But
¥ ¥ ¥
1 1
exp ( - r ) = ò dr 2 r 2 n exp ( - r 2 ) = ò dr 2 ( r 2 ) exp ( - r 2 ) =
n
ò drr
2 n +1 2

0
20 20
} 1¥
r2 =s
1 1
= ò dss n exp ( - s ) = G ( n + 1) = n !
20 2 2

where we made use of the property G ( n ) = ( n - 1) ! of the gamma function
¥
G ( t ) = ò dxx t -1 exp ( - x ) , Re t > 0 .
0

Substituting into the expression of the integral ò d l l l , we obtain
¥
1 n n ¥

ò d l l l = 2p å
n =0 2
n !
n!
= p å n n =p
1 424
n =0
3
1

where we used the completeness relation of the energy eigenstates.
Thus
1
p ò dl l l = 1 (4)

This is the completeness relation of the set of the coherent states. Moreover, since the
coherent states overlap, the set is said to be overcomplete.

67
An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

III. An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of
the QHO
We know that the ground-state wave function of a QHO having length scale x0 is

1 1 æ 1 æ x ö2 ö
y 0 ( x) = exp ç - ç ÷ ÷
x0 4
1
ç 2 è x0 ø ÷
p è ø
Let us now consider the wave function

1 1 æ 1 æ x ö2 ö
y ( x; x ) = exp ç - ç ÷
x x0 4
1
ç 2 è x x0 ÷ø ÷
p è ø
where x is a dimensionless, positive real parameter.
If x ¹ 1 , the wave function y ( x; x ) is not the ground-state wave function of the QHO
having length scale x0 , but it can be thought of as the ground-state wave function of
another QHO, having length scale x x0 .
Moreover, for every value of x , y ( x; x ) describes the ground state of a, different
each time, QHO.
Since y ( x; x ) always describes the ground state of a QHO, the position-momentum
uncertainty product will be minimum in the state described by y ( x; x ) .
If x0¢ = x x0 is the length scale of the new QHO, with ground-state wave function
p
y ( x; x ) , then its momentum scale will be p0¢ = 0 , where p0 is the momentum scale
x
of the first QHO.
Indeed, since the product of the two scales must be equal to h , we have

x0¢ p0¢ = h = x0 p0
Thus
p0
x0¢ p0¢ = x0 p0 Þ x x0 p0¢ = x0 p0 Þ p0¢ =
x

Since the wave function y ( x; x ) describes the ground state of a QHO with scales x0¢
and p0¢ , the position and momentum uncertainties in the state described by y ( x; x )
will be

x0¢ p0¢
Dx = and Dp = .
2 2
In terms of the scales x0 and p0 of the first QHO, the previous two uncertainties are
respectively written as
x x0 p0
Dx = and Dp = .
2 2x

68
An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

If x ¹ 1 , we have
Dx x 1 Dp
= ¹ =
x0 2 2x p0
That is
Dx Dp
¹
x0 p0

Thus, with respect to the first QHO, in the state described by y ( x; x ) , which is a state
of minimum position-momentum uncertainty product, the two individual uncertainties
are not equally distributed.
Therefore, for the first QHO, the state described by y ( x; x ) is always, i.e. for every
value of the parameter x , a state of minimum position-momentum uncertainty
h
product, i.e. DxDp = , but the uncertainties of the position and momentum are not
2
equally distributed, taking different values each time the parameter x changes.
For each value of the parameter x , the state described by y ( x; x ) is called a
squeezed state of the first QHO, and particularly, it is a squeezed state of the ground
state of the first QHO.
In the same way, from each coherent state of the first QHO, we construct squeezed
states of the first QHO.

Thus, making the change x0 ® x x0 in each coherent state of a QHO having
length scale x0 , we construct squeezed states of that QHO.

We defined the squeezed states in the position representation, as this provides a better
intuitive picture of the squeezed states. However, working in the same way, we may
well define the squeezed states in the momentum representation too.

The parameter x determines the squeezing of the position and momentum
uncertainties, and thus we may call it squeezing parameter.

The coherent states as states of minimum energy expectation
value

12) Show that the energy expectation value of a squeezed state is always
greater than the energy expectation value of its respective coherent state, and
only when the squeezed state coincides with the respective coherent state,
i.e. only when the squeezing parameter is 1, the two energy expectation
values are equal.

Solution
The expectation values do not depend on the representation we may use to calculate
them – they are representation free – and thus we choose to work in the position
representation.

69
An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

In the exercise 9, we showed that, in the position representation, the coherent state
l is described by the wave function

æ æ x- x ö i p l xö
2
1 1 ç- 1 ç ÷ (1)
y l ( x) =
l
exp ÷ +
x0 4
1
ç 2ç x0 ÷ h ÷
p è è ø ø
To construct a squeezed state of the coherent state l , we make in (1) the change
x0 ® x x0 , with x > 0 .
Thus, in the position representation, a squeezed state is described by the wave
function
æ æ x- x ö i p l xö
2
1 1 ç- 1 ç ÷ (2)
y l ( x; x ) =
l
exp ÷ +
x x0 4
1
ç 2 ç x x0 ÷ h ÷
p è è ø ø
As shown in the exercise 8, the energy expectation value of the QHO in the coherent
state l is

(p )
2

1
( ) + h2w (3)
l 2
E l
= + mw 2 x l
2m 2
Denoting by l ; x the squeezed state that is described by the wave function
y l ( x; x ) , the energy expectation value of the QHO in the state l ; x is

E l ;x
= l ; x Hˆ l ; x (4)

We may calculate the previous energy expectation value directly in the position
representation, and we urge the reader to do the relevant calculations.
Alternatively, we may use that the state l ; x is a coherent state of a second QHO,
p0
having length and momentum scales x x0 and , respectively, where x0 and p0 are,
x
respectively, the length and momentum scales of the first QHO.
Then, as shown in the exercise 7, with respect to the second QHO, the position and
momentum uncertainties in the state l ; x are equally distributed, i.e.

x x0
( Dx ) l ;x =
2
and
p0
( Dp ) l ;x =
2x
Thus

( ) x x0 x 2 x0 2
( )
2 2
x2 - x l ;x
= Þ x2 = + x l ;x
(5)
l ;x l ;x 2
2
and

70
An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

( ) p0 p0 2
( )
2 2
p2 - p = Þ p2 = + p (6)
l ;x l ;x
2x l ;x 2x 2 l ;x

We’ll use the wave function y l ( x; x ) to calculate the position and momentum
expectation values. Then, from (5) and (6), we’ll calculate the expectation values of
the position squared and momentum squared, and then, we’ll use them to calculate the
energy expectation value.
In the position representation, the position expectation value in the state l ; x is
written as
¥

= ò dxy l ( x;x ) xy l ( x;x )
*
x l ;x

Substituting into the integral the wave function y l ( x; x ) from (2), we obtain

¥ æ æ x- x ö
2
ö
1 1
ò-¥ dxx exp çç - çç x x0 ÷ (7)
l
x = ÷
l ;x
x x0 12 ÷ ÷
p è è ø ø
Changing the integration variable to x¢ = x - x l
, the previous integral becomes

æ æ x- x ö ¥ ö
2
æ æ x¢ ö 2 ö
( )
¥

ò-¥ dxx exp çç - çç x x0 ÷ = dx¢ x¢ + x
l
÷ -¥ò ÷
÷ l
exp ç - ç ÷=
ç è x x0 ÷ø ÷
è è ø ø è ø
¥ æ x¢2 ö
¥ æ x¢2 ö
= ò dx¢x¢ exp ç - ÷ + x l ò
dx¢ exp ç - ÷
ç ( x x )
2
÷ ç ( x x )
2
÷
-¥ è 0 ø -¥ è 0 ø
æ x¢2 ö
The first integral is zero, because the function x¢ exp ç - ÷ is odd, as product of
ç (x x ) 2 ÷
è 0 ø
æ x¢2 ö
the odd function x¢ with the even function exp ç - ÷ , and the integration
ç ( x x )2 ÷
è 0 ø
interval is symmetric.
¥
p
ò dx exp ( -ax ) = , where a > 0 , the second integral is
2
Using that
-¥ a
¥ æ x¢2 ö 1

ò-¥ ( 0)
2
dx ¢ exp ç - ÷ = p x x = p 2
x x0
ç (x x )2 ÷
è 0 ø
Thus
¥ æ æ x- x ö
2
ö 1
ç-ç l ÷ = p 2x x x
ò-¥ dxx exp
ç ç x x0
÷
÷ ÷ 0 l
è è ø ø
Substituting into (7) yields

71
An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

x l ;x
= x l
(8)

Therefore, the position expectation value in a squeezed state is equal to the position
expectation value in the respective coherent state.

In other words, the squeezing of a coherent state does not change the position
expectation value.

In the same way, we calculate the momentum expectation value.
In the position representation, we have
¥
æ d ö
¥
dy ( x; x )
p l ;x
= ò-¥ l
dxy *
( x; x ) ç -i h y
÷ l ( x; x ) = -i h ò dxy l * ( x; x ) l
è dx ø -¥ dx
dy l ( x; x )
Using (2), the derivative is
dx

dy l ( x; x ) æ 1 æ x - x ö i p ö æ x l -x i p ö
= ç- ç
l
÷+
l
÷y l ( x; x ) = ç +
l
÷y l ( x; x )
dx ç x x0 ç x x0 ÷ h ÷ ç ( x x0 ) 2 h ÷
è è ø ø è ø
Thus, the momentum expectation value is written as
¥ æ x l -x i p ö
= -ih ò dxy l * ( x; x ) ç ÷y l ( x; x ) =
l
p +
l ;x ç ( ) ÷
2
-¥ è x x0
h
ø

( )
¥ ¥
ih
dxy l * ( x; x ) x - x y l ( x; x ) + p ò dxy l ( x; x )y l ( x;x ) =
(x x ) ò
= 2 l l
*

0 -¥ -¥

æ ö
ç¥ ¥ ÷
ih ç
= ò dxy l ( x; x ) xy l ( x; x ) - x l ò dxy l ( x; x )y l ( x; x ) ÷ +
* *
ç
(x x0 ) ç -¥
2
÷
1444424444 3 1444

424444 3÷
è x l ;x 1
ø

( )
¥
ih
+ p l ò dxy l * ( x; x )y l ( x; x ) = x l ;x - x l + p l
( )
2
1444

424444 3 x x0
1

Using (8), we end up to
p l ;x
= p l
(9)

Therefore, as in the case of the position expectation value, the squeezing of a
coherent state does not change the momentum expectation value.

¥

ò dxy l ( x; x )y l ( x; x ) is 1, as the state l ; x is normalized. This
*
The integral

follows from the fact that the state l ; x is a coherent state of the second QHO,

72
An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

p0
which has scales x x0 and , and thus it is generated by the action of a
x
displacement operator, which is unitary, on the ground state of the second QHO.

Substituting (8) and (9) into (5) and (6), respectively, we obtain
x 2 x02
( )
2
x 2
l ;x
= + x l
2
p0 2
( )
2
p2 = + p
l ;x 2x 2 l

Substituting into the previous two equations the length and momentum scales,
h
x0 = and p0 = mhw , we obtain, respectively,
mw
x 2h
( )
2
x2 = + x (10)
l ;x 2mw l

mhw
(p )
2
p2 = + (11)
l ;x 2x 2 l

By means of (10) and (11), the energy expectation value of the QHO in the squeezed
state l ; x is

mhw
( )
2

p 2 + p
2x 2 æ x 2h
( ) ö÷ø =
l
l ;x 1 1 2
E = + mw 2 x 2 = + mw 2 ç + x
è 2mw
l ;x l
2m 2 l ;x 2m 2

( )
2
p
æ 1 ö hw 1
( )
l 2
= ç 2 +x2 ÷ + + mw 2 x
èx
l
ø 4 2m 2
That is

(p )
2

1
( ) + æçè x1 + x ö hw
l 2
E l ;x
= + mw 2 x l 2
2
÷ (12)
2m 2 ø 4
By means of (3), (12) is written as
hw æ 1 ö hw æ 1 ö hw
E = E - + ç 2 +x 2 ÷ = E + ç 2 + x 2 - 2÷ =
l ;x l
2 èx ø 4
l
èx ø 4
2
æ 1 ö hw
= E + çx - ÷
l
è xø 4
That is
2
æ 1 ö hw
E = E + çx - ÷ (13)
l ;x l
è xø 4

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An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

2
æ 1 ö hw
Since ç x - ÷ ³ 0 , (13) gives
è xø 4
E l ;x
³ E l

and the equality holds only when
1
x- = 0 Þ x 2 = 1Þ
{x =1
x x >0

Therefore, the energy expectation value in a squeezed state is always greater
than the energy expectation value in the respective coherent state, and only when
the squeezing parameter is 1, i.e. only when there is no squeezing, and thus the
squeezed state coincides with the coherent state, the two energy expectation
values are equal.

It is also worth noting that, as seen from the equation (13), the energy expectation
1
value in the states l ; x and l ; is the same, i.e.
x
E l ;x
= E l;
1
x

13) What is the energy expectation value in the squeezed state l ; x when
x ® 0+ and x ® ¥ ? Comment on the results.

Solution
We showed in the previous exercise that the energy expectation value in the squeezed
state l ; x is
2
æ 1 ö hw
E = E + çx - ÷
l ;x l
è xø 4
where E l
is the energy expectation value in the respective coherent state, and it is

(p )
2

1
( x ) + h2w
l 2
E l
= + mw 2 l
2m 2
We observe that
2
æ 2 ö
æ 1ö ç 1 ÷
lim+ ç x - ÷ = ç 0 - + ÷ = ( -¥ ) = ¥
2

x ®0
è xø ç { 0 ÷
è ¥ ø

and

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An intuitive introduction to the squeezed states of the QHO

2
æ ö
2
æ 1ö ç 1÷
lim x - ÷ = ç ¥ - ÷ = ¥
x ®¥ ç xø ç ¥÷
è {
è 0 ø

Thus, in both cases, the energy expectation value tends to infinity, i.e.
lim E l ;x
®¥
x ® 0+ , ¥

In the previous exercise, we showed that the position and momentum uncertainties in
the squeezed state l ; x are, respectively,

x x0 p0
( Dx ) l ;x = and ( Dp ) l ;x = .
2 2x
We see that, when x ® 0+ , the position uncertainty tends to zero and the momentum
uncertainty tends to infinity. Then, the squeezed state l ; x tends to become a
position eigenstate, i.e. lim+ l ; x = x - x l
, and the position eigenstates are states
x ®0

of infinite energy for the QHO.
Similarly, when x ® ¥ , the position uncertainty tends to infinity and the momentum
uncertainty tends to zero. Then, the squeezed state l ; x tends to become a
momentum eigenstate, i.e. lim l ; x = p - p l
, and the momentum eigenstates are
x ®¥

also states of infinite energy for the QHO.

75
General references

IV. General references
1. David J. Griffiths, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, Prentice Hall, 1995

2. Stephen Gasiorowicz, Quantum Physics, Wiley, 1974

3. J. J. Sakurai, Jim J. Napolitano, Modern Quantum Mechanics, Second Edition,
Addison-Wesley, 2011

4. Spiros Konstantogiannis, Special Topics In One-Dimensional Quantum Mechanics:
Selected Exercises In Spatial and Momentum Translations, Lulu, 2017, available at:
http://www.lulu.com/shop/spiros-konstantogiannis/special-topics-in-one-dimensional-
quantum-mechanics-selected-exercises-in-spatial-and-momentum-
translations/ebook/product-23048614.html

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