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Phys 481: Recitation 8


1. Consider a particle subject to a constant force pointing toward the origin, i.e. a particle subject to the
1D potential
V (x) = F |x|.

(a) Sketch this potential and determine the classical turning points of this particle
(b) Using the WKB approximation, come up with an approximate expression for the ground state
energy of this particle
(c) The exact energies of the nth stationary states of this system are given by
En = an √ ,

a1 = 1.0188 . . .
a2 = 2.3381 . . .
a3 = 3.2482 . . .
a4 = 4.0879 . . .
a5 = 4.8201 . . .
a6 = 5.5206 . . . ,

where the an ’s are obtained by looking at the zeros of Ai(x) and its derivative Ai0 (x) (not going
to get into specifics here). Compare the WKB approximation energies for En to the exact energy
expressions for n ∈ [1, 6]. What pattern do you notice? Why do you think this is?

2. In this problem we will use the WKB approximation to calculate the energy levels of the s states of an
electron that is bound to a nucleus of charge Ze. We will do this by assuming that since the electron
is bound to the nucleus, it can be viewed as moving between two rigid walls 0 ≤ r ≤ a with E = V (a)
and a = −Ze2 /E (note: the energy of the electron is negative).

(a) Recall that for s states, l = 0, so the radial Schrödinger equation reads

~2 d2 u Ze2
− − u = Eu.
2m dr2 4π0 r
Given this, write down an expression for p(r).
(b) Determine the quantization condition from which the energy levels of the s states can be derived.
(c) RExplicitly work out the energy levels of the s-states and compare to the Bohr energy levels. Hint:
0 (a/r − 1)dr = aπ/2. Also, recall that the Bohr radius is given by a0 = 4π0 ~2 /(me2 ).

3. Bonus: Choosing a suitable trial wavefunction, use the variational principle to come up with an approx-
imate expression for the ground state energy of the particle subject to the potential in the first problem
of this assignment.