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enjoy it. Quantum mechanics, also known as quantum ph ysics or quantum theory, is a branch of physics providing a mathematical descrip tion of much of the dual particle-like and wave-like behavior and interactions o f energy and matter. It departs from classical mechanics primarily at the atomic and subatomic scales. In advanced topics of QM, some of these behaviors are mac roscopic and only emerge at very low or very high energies or temperatures. The name, coined by Max Planck, derives from the observation that some physical quan tities can be changed only by discrete amounts, or quanta, as multiples of the P lanck constant, rather than being capable of varying continuously or by any arbi trary amount. For example, the angular momentum, or more generally the action, o f an electron bound into an atom or molecule is quantized. An electron bound in an atomic orbital has quantized values of angular momentum while an unbound elec tron does not exhibit quantized energy levels. In the context of QM, the wave–part icle duality of energy and matter and the uncertainty principle provide a unifie d view of the behavior of photons, electrons and other atomic-scale objects. The mathematical formulations of quantum mechanics are abstract and the implicat ions are often non-intuitive in terms of classic physics. The centerpiece of the mathematical system is the wavefunction. The wavefunction is a mathematical fun ction that can provide information about the probability amplitude of position a nd momentum of a particle. Mathematical manipulations of the wavefunction usuall y involve the bra-ket notation, which requires an understanding of complex numbe rs and linear functionals. The wavefunction emphasizes the object as a quantum h armonic oscillator and the mathematics is akin to that of acoustics, resonance. Many of the results of QM do not have models that are easily visualized in terms of classical mechanics; for instance, the ground state in the quantum mechanica l model is a non-zero energy state that is the lowest permitted energy state of a system, rather than a more traditional system that is thought of as simply bei ng at rest with zero kinetic energy. Historically, the earliest versions of QM were formulated in the first decade of the 20th century at around the same time as the atomic theory and the corpuscul ar theory of light as updated by Einstein first came to be widely accepted as sc ientific fact; these latter theories can be viewed as "quantum theories" of matt er and electromagnetic radiation. QM underwent a significant re-formulation in t he mid-1920's away from old quantum theory with the acceptance of the Copenhagen interpretation of Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli and their assoc iates. By 1930, QM had been further unified and formalized by the work of Paul D irac and John von Neumann, with a greater emphasis placed on measurement in quan tum mechanics, the statistical nature of our knowledge of reality and philosophi cal speculation about the role of the observer. QM has since branched out into a lmost every aspect of 20th century physics and other disciplines such as quantum chemistry, quantum electronics, quantum optics and quantum information science. Much of what might be considered 19th century physics has been re-evaluated as the classical limit of QM, and its more advanced developments in terms of quantu m field theory and speculative quantum gravity theories. The early history of quantum mechanics can be traced to the 1838 discovery of ca thode rays by Michael Faraday. This was followed by the 1859 statement of the bl ack body radiation problem by Gustav Kirchhoff, the 1877 suggestion by Ludwig Bo ltzmann that the energy states of a physical system can be discrete, and the 190 0 quantum hypothesis of Max Planck. Planck's hypothesis that energy is radiat ed and absorbed in discrete "quanta," or "energy elements," enabled the correct derivation of the observed patterns of black body radiation. According to Planck , each energy element E is proportional to its frequency ν: where h is Pla ck's actio co sta t. Pla ck i sisted that this was simply a asp ect of the processes of absorptio a d emissio of radiatio a d had othi g to do with the physical reality of the radiatio itself. However, i 1905 Albert Ei stei i terpreted Pla ck's qua tum hypothesis realistically a d used it to e
xplai the photoelectric effect, i which shi i g light o certai materials ca eject electro s from the material. Ei stei postulated that light itself co sis ts of i dividual qua ta of e ergy, later called photo s. The fou datio s of qua tum mecha ics were established duri g the first half of t he twe tieth ce tury by Niels Bohr, Wer er Heise berg, Max Pla ck, Louis de Brog lie, Albert Ei stei , Erwi Schrödi ger, Max Bor , Joh vo Neuma , Paul Dirac, W olfga g Pauli, David Hilbert, a d others. I the mid-1920s, developme ts i qua tum mecha ics quickly led to its becomi g the sta dard formulatio for atomic ph ysics. I the summer of 1925, Bohr a d Heise berg published results that closed the "Old Qua tum Theory". Light qua ta came to be called photo s (1926). From Ei stei 's simple postulatio was bor a flurry of debati g, theorizi g a d testi g, a d thus the e tire field of qua tum physics emerged, leadi g to its wider ac cepta ce at the Fifth Solvay Co fere ce i 1927. The other exemplar that led to qua tum mecha ics was the study of electromag eti c waves such as light. Whe it was fou d i 1900 by Max Pla ck that the e ergy o f waves could be described as co sisti g of small packets or qua ta, Albert Ei s tei further developed this idea to show that a electromag etic wave such as li ght could be described by a particle called the photo with a discrete e ergy de pe de t o its freque cy. This led to a theory of u ity betwee subatomic partic les a d electromag etic waves called wave–particle duality i which particles a d waves were either o e or the other, but had certai properties of both. While qua tum mecha ics describes the world of the very small, it also is eeded to ex plai certai macroscopic qua tum systems such as superco ductors a d superfluid s. The word qua tum derives from Lati mea i g "how great" or "how much". I qua tum mecha ics, it refers to a discrete u it that qua tum theory assig s to cert ai physical qua tities, such as the e ergy of a atom at rest (see Figure 1). T he discovery that particles are discrete packets of e ergy with wave-like proper ties led to the bra ch of physics that deals with atomic a d subatomic systems w hich is today called qua tum mecha ics. It is the u derlyi g mathematical framew ork of ma y fields of physics a d chemistry, i cludi g co de sed matter physics, solid-state physics, atomic physics, molecular physics, computatio al physics, computatio al chemistry, qua tum chemistry, particle physics, uclear chemistry, a d uclear physics. Some fu dame tal aspects of the theory are still active ly studied. Qua tum mecha ics is esse tial to u dersta d the behavior of syst ems at atomic le gth scales a d smaller. For example, if classical mecha ics gov er ed the worki gs of a atom, electro s would rapidly travel towards a d collid e with the ucleus, maki g stable atoms impossible. However, i the atural worl d the electro s ormally remai i a u certai , o -determi istic "smeared" (wa ve–particle wave fu ctio ) orbital path arou d or through the ucleus, defyi g cla ssical electromag etism. Qua tum mecha ics was i itially developed to provide a better expla atio of the atom, especially the spectra of light emitted by di ffere t atomic species. The qua tum theory of the atom was developed as a expla atio for the electro 's stayi g i its orbital, which could ot be explai ed b y Newto 's laws of motio a d by Maxwell's laws of classical electromag etism. B roadly speaki g, qua tum mecha ics i corporates four classes of phe ome a for wh ich classical physics ca ot accou t: IN the mathematically rigorous formulatio of qua tum mecha ics, developed by Pa ul Dirac a d Joh vo Neuma , the possible states of a qua tum mecha ical system are represe ted by u it vectors (called "state vectors") residi g i a c omplex separable Hilbert space (variously called the "state space" or the "assoc iated Hilbert space" of the system) well defi ed up to a complex umber of orm 1 (the phase factor). I other words, the possible states are poi ts i the proj ectivizatio of a Hilbert space, usually called the complex projective space. Th e exact ature of this Hilbert space is depe de t o the system; for example, th e state space for positio a d mome tum states is the space of square-i tegrable fu ctio s, while the state space for the spi of a si gle proto is just the pr oduct of two complex pla es. Each observable is represe ted by a maximally Hermi tia (precisely: by a self-adjoi t) li ear operator acti g o the state space. E ach eige state of a observable correspo ds to a eige vector of the operator, a
d the associated eige value correspo ds to the value of the observable i that eige state. If the operator's spectrum is discrete, the observable ca o ly atta i those discrete eige values. I the formalism of qua tum mecha ics, the state of a system at a give time is described by a complex wave fu ctio , also referred to as state vector i a comp lex vector space. This abstract mathematical object allows for the calculati o of probabilities of outcomes of co crete experime ts. For example, it allows o e to compute the probability of fi di g a electro i a particular regio aro u d the ucleus at a particular time. Co trary to classical mecha ics, o e ca ever make simulta eous predictio s of co jugate variables, such as positio a d mome tum, with accuracy. For i sta ce, electro s may be co sidered to be located somewhere withi a regio of space, but with their exact positio s bei g u k ow . Co tours of co sta t probability, ofte referred to as "clouds", may be draw arou d the ucleus of a atom to co ceptualize where the electro might be loca ted with the most probability. Heise berg's u certai ty pri ciple qua tifies the i ability to precisely locate the particle give its co jugate mome tum. As the result of a measureme t, the wave fu ctio co tai i g the probability i f ormatio for a system collapses from a give i itial state to a particular eige state of the observable. The possible results of a measureme t are the eige valu es of the operator represe ti g the observable — which explai s the choice of Herm itia operators, for which all the eige values are real. We ca fi d the probabi lity distributio of a observable i a give state by computi g the spectral de compositio of the correspo di g operator. Heise berg's u certai ty pri ciple is represe ted by the stateme t that the operators correspo di g to certai observ ables do ot commute. The probabilistic ature of qua tum mecha ics thus stems from the act of measure me t. This is o e of the most difficult aspects of qua tum systems to u dersta d . It was the ce tral topic i the famous Bohr-Ei stei debates, i which the two scie tists attempted to clarify these fu dame tal pri ciples by way of thought experime ts. I the decades after the formulatio of qua tum mecha ics, the ques tio of what co stitutes a "measureme t" has bee exte sively studied. I terpret atio s of qua tum mecha ics have bee formulated to do away with the co cept of "wavefu ctio collapse"; see, for example, the relative state i terpretatio . Th e basic idea is that whe a qua tum system i teracts with a measuri g apparatus, their respective wavefu ctio s become e ta gled, so that the origi al qua tum s ystem ceases to exist as a i depe de t e tity. For details, see the article o measureme t i qua tum mecha ics. Ge erally, qua tum mecha ics does ot assi g defi ite values to observables. I stead, it makes predictio s usi g probabili ty distributio s; that is, the probability of obtai i g possible outcomes from m easuri g a observable. Ofte these results are skewed by ma y causes, such as d e se probability clouds or qua tum state uclear attractio . Natural ly, these probabilities will depe d o the qua tum state at the "i sta t" of the measureme t. He ce, u certai ty is i volved i the value. There are, however, c ertai states that are associated with a defi ite value of a particular observab le. These are k ow as eige states of the observable ("eige " ca be tra slated from Germa as i here t or as a characteristic). I the everyday world, it is atural a d i tuitive to thi k of everythi g (every observable) as bei g i a eige state. Everythi g appears to have a defi ite po sitio , a defi ite mome tum, a defi ite e ergy, a d a defi ite time of occurre c e. However, qua tum mecha ics does ot pi poi t the exact values of a particle f or its positio a d mome tum (si ce they are co jugate pairs) or its e ergy a d time (si ce they too are co jugate pairs); rather, it o ly provides a ra ge of p robabilities of where that particle might be give its mome tum a d mome tum pro bability. Therefore, it is helpful to use differe t words to describe states hav i g u certai values a d states havi g defi ite values (eige state). Usually, a system will ot be i a eige state of the observable we are i terested i . Howe ver, if o e measures the observable, the wavefu ctio will i sta ta eously be a eige state (or ge eralized eige state) of that observable. This process is k ow as wavefu ctio collapse, a debatable process. It i volves expa di g the s ystem u der study to i clude the measureme t device. If o e k ows the correspo d
i g wave fu ctio at the i sta t before the measureme t, o e will be able to com pute the probability of collapsi g i to each of the possible eige states. For ex ample, the free particle i the previous example will usually have a wavefu ctio that is a wave packet ce tered arou d some mea positio x0, either a eige s tate of positio or of mome tum. Whe o e measures the positio of the particle , it is impossible to predict with certai ty the result. It is probable, but ot certai , that it will be ear x0, where the amplitude of the wave fu ctio is large. After the measureme t is performed, havi g obtai ed some result x, the wave fu ctio collapses i to a positio eige state ce tered at x. The time evolutio of a qua tum state is described by the Schrödi ger equatio , i which the Hamilto ia , the operator correspo di g to the total e ergy of the sy stem, ge erates time evolutio . The time evolutio of wave fu ctio s is determi istic i the se se that, give a wavefu ctio at a i itial time, it makes a def i ite predictio of what the wavefu ctio will be at a y later time. Duri g a measureme t, o the other ha d, the cha ge of the wavefu ctio i to a o ther o e is ot determi istic, but rather u predictable, i.e., ra dom. A time-ev olutio simulatio ca be see here. Wave fu ctio s ca cha ge as time progr esses. A equatio k ow as the Schrödi ger equatio describes how wave fu ctio s cha ge i time, a role similar to Newto 's seco d law i classical mecha ics. Th e Schrödi ger equatio , applied to the aforeme tio ed example of the free particle , predicts that the ce ter of a wave packet will move through space at a co sta t velocity, like a classical particle with o forces acti g o it. However, the wave packet will also spread out as time progresses, which mea s that the positi o becomes more u certai . This also has the effect of tur i g positio eige sta tes (which ca be thought of as i fi itely sharp wave packets) i to broade ed wa ve packets that are o lo ger positio eige states. Some wave fu ctio s produce probability distributio s that are co sta t, or i de pe de t of time, such as whe i a statio ary state of co sta t e ergy, time dro ps out of the absolute square of the wave fu ctio . Ma y systems that are treate d dy amically i classical mecha ics are described by such "static" wave fu ctio s. For example, a si gle electro i a u excited atom is pictured classically as a particle movi g i a circular trajectory arou d the atomic ucleus, whereas i qua tum mecha ics it is described by a static, spherically symmetric wavefu ctio surrou di g the ucleus (Fig. 1). (Note that o ly the lowest a gular mome tum states, labeled s, are spherically symmetric). The Schrödi ger equatio acts o the e tire probability amplitude, ot merely its absolute value. Whereas the absolute value of the probability amplitude e codes i formatio about probabilities, its phase e codes i formatio about the i terfe re ce betwee qua tum states. This gives rise to the wave-like behavior of qua t um states. It tur s out that a alytic solutio s of Schrödi ger's equatio are o ly available for a small umber of model Hamilto ia s, of which the qua tum harmo ic oscillator, the particle i a box, the hydroge molecular io a d the hydroge atom are the most importa t represe tatives. Eve the helium atom, which co ta i s just o e more electro tha hydroge , defies all attempts at a fully a alyti c treatme t. There exist several tech iques for ge erati g approximate solutio s . For i sta ce, i the method k ow as perturbatio theory o e uses the a alytic results for a simple qua tum mecha ical model to ge erate results for a more co mplicated model related to the simple model by, for example, the additio of a w eak pote tial e ergy. A other method is the "semi-classical equatio of motio " approach, which applies to systems for which qua tum mecha ics produces weak dev iatio s from classical behavior. The deviatio s ca be calculated based o the c lassical motio . This approach is importa t for the field of qua tum chaos. There are umerous mathematically equivale t formulatio s of qua tum mecha ics. O e of the oldest a d most commo ly used formulatio s is the tra sformatio theo ry proposed by Cambridge theoretical physicist Paul Dirac, which u ifies a d ge eralizes the two earliest formulatio s of qua tum mecha ics, matrix mecha ics (i ve ted by Wer er Heise berg) a d wave mecha ics (i ve ted by Erwi Schröd i ger). I this formulatio , the i sta ta eous state of a qua tum system e c odes the probabilities of its measurable properties, or "observables". Examples of observables i clude e ergy, positio , mome tum, a d a gular mome tum. Observa
bles ca be either co ti uous (e.g., the positio of a particle) or discrete (e. g., the e ergy of a electro bou d to a hydroge atom). A alter ative form ulatio of qua tum mecha ics is Fey ma 's path i tegral formulatio , i which a qua tum-mecha ical amplitude is co sidered as a sum over histories betwee i iti al a d fi al states; this is the qua tum-mecha ical cou terpart of actio pri ci ples i classical mecha ics.
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