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# Lecture 4

Uncertainty Principle
References :
1.Concept of Modern Physics
by Arthur Beiser
2. Modern Physics
by Kenneth Krane
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4
3
A localized wave or wave packet:
Superposition of waves
of different wavelengths
to make a packet
Narrower the packet , more the spread in momentum
Basis of Uncertainty Principle
A moving particle in quantum theory

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
___________________________________

- The Uncertainty Principle is an important
consequence of the wave-particle duality of
matter and radiation and is inherent to the
quantum description of nature
- Simply stated, it is impossible to know both the
exact position and the exact momentum of an
object simultaneously
A fact of Nature!

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
__________________________________

Uncertainty in Position :

Uncertainty in Momentum:

x A
x
p A
t 2
h
p x
x
> A A

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
- applies to all conjugate variables
___________________________________

Position & momentum

Energy & time

t 2
h
p x
x
> A A
t 2
h
t E > A A
Uncertainty Principle and the Wave Packet
___________________________________

p
h
=
t 2
h
p x
x
> A A
p
p A
=
A

x A

Some consequences of the Uncertainty Principle
___________________________________

The path of a particle (trajectory) is not well-defined in
quantum mechanics

- Electrons cannot exist inside a nucleus

- Atomic oscillators possess a certain amount of energy
known as the zero-point energy, even at absolute zero.

Why is nt the uncertainty principle apparent to
us in our ordinary experience?
Plancks constant, again!!
___________________________________

Plancks constant is so small that the
uncertainties implied by the principle are also
too small to be observed. They are only
significant in the domain of microscopic
systems
J.s 10 x 6 . 6
34
= h
t 2
h
p x
x
> A A
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
The uncertainty principle states that the position
and momentum cannot both be measured,
exactly, at the same time.
Where h (6.6 x 10
-34
) is called Plancks constant. As h is so small, these
uncertainties are not observable in normal everyday situations
Ax Ap > h
The more accurately you
know the position (i.e., the
smaller Ax is) , the less
accurately you know the
momentum (i.e., the larger
Ap is); and vice versa
h or
2
h
or
t
For
Numerical
For
Applications
Historic importance
Increasing levels of wavepacket localization, meaning the
particle has a more localized position.
In the limit 0, the particle's
position and momentum become known
exactly. This is equivalent to the
classical particle.
p is less
p is more
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The wave nature to particles means a particle is a wave packet,
the composite of many waves
Many waves = many momentums, observation makes one
momentum out of many.
Principle of complementarity: The moving electron will
behave as a particle or as a wave, but we can not observe both
aspects of its behavior simultaneously. It states that
complete description of a physical entity such as a
photon or an electron can not be made in terms of
only particle properties or only wave properties, but
that both aspects of its behavior must be considered.
Exact knowledge of complementarities pairs (position, energy,
time) is impossible.

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Same situation, but baseball replaced by an electron which has mass 9.11
x 10
-31
kg
So momentum= 3.6 x 10
-29
kg m/s and Ap = 3.6 x 10
-31
kg m/s

The uncertainty in position is then
Example
A pitcher throws a 0.1-kg baseball at 40 m/s
So momentum is 0.1 x 40 = 4 kg m/s
Suppose the momentum is measured to an accuracy of 1 % , i.e.,
Ap = 0.01

p = 4 x 10
-2
kg m/s

The uncertainty in position is then

No wonder one does not observe the effects of the uncertainty principle in
everyday life!

Example: A free 10eV electron moves in the x-direction with a speed of
1.8810
6
m/s. assume that you can measure this speed to precision of 1%.
With what precision can you simultaneously measure its position?

the momentum of e- is
p
x
= m v
x
= 9.1110
-31
kg 1.8810
6
m/s
= 1.71 10
-24
kg m/s
The uncertainty A p
x
in momentum is 1%
Ax > h/4t A p
x
=3.1 n m

Example: A golf ball has a mss 45gm and speed of 40 m/s, which you can
measure with a precision of 1%. What limits does the uncertainty principle
place on your ability to measure its position.

Calculations yields Ax > 6 10
-31
m. this is very small distance,

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Applications of uncertainty principle
1. Non-existence of electrons in the Nucleus
Assume that the electron is present in the nucleus. The radius of
the nucleus of any atom is of the order 5 fermi (1 fermi = 10
-15
m). For
the existence of electron in the nucleus, the uncertainty Ax in its
position would be at least equal to the radius of the nucleus, i.e.
uncertainty in the position

According to the uncertainty principle.
Ap > h/4tAx= 1.05410
-20
kg-m/sec
If this is the uncertainty in momentum of the electron then the
momentum of the electron must be at least of the order of its
magnitude, that is , p ~ 1.05410
-20
kg-m/sec, an electron having so
much momentum should have a velocity comparable to the velocity
of light. Hence, its energy should be calculated by the relativistic
formula
E
2
=p
2
c
2
+m
o
2
c
4

15
x R 5 10 m

A = =
16
pc= 1.05410
-20
310
8
= 20 MeV

The rest energy of electron 0.51 MeV, is very small as compared to
pc. Hence second term in relativistic equation can be neglected.

Thus, if the electron is the constituents of the nucleus, it should
have an energy of the order of 20 MeV.

However, from experiment of decay it is found that the
electrons emitted from the radioactive element do not have more
than 2-3 MeV. Therefore, it is confirmed that electrons do not
reside inside the nucleus.
Applications of uncertainty principle
4. Particle in a Box Problem
Find the minimum energy for a particle confined to a box of size L
Macroscopic: 1 g particle confined to 1 m E
min
~ 10
-29
eV
Microscopic: Electron confined to 0.1 nm E
min
~ 4 eV
2 2
2 2
min
34 16
2
min
2
Using (Uncertainty Principle) and
where
(for 0),

2 2
1.05 10 J s or 6.58 10 eV s
2

p p p p
x
p p
E
m m
E
mL

A = A = =
A
A
= =
=
=
x = L
x
X=0
X=L
Energy
Applications of uncertainty principle
Physical Origin of the Uncertainty Principle
Heisenberg (Bohr) Microscope
The measurement itself introduces
the uncertainty

When we look at an object we see it
via the photons that are detected by
the microscope

These are the photons that are scattered
within an angle 2 and collected by a
lens of diameter D
Momentum of electron is changed
Consider single photon, this will
introduce the minimum uncertainty

u sin 2
max
ph ph
p p = A
u sin 2
ph ph electron
p p p = A = A
u

u u u
u

h
p
h
p p
h
p
electron
ph electron
ph
2
sin , small for
sin
2
sin 2
= A
~
= = A
=
As a consequence of
momentum conservation
Physical Origin of the Uncertainty Principle
Heisenberg (Bohr) Microscope
Trying to locate electron we
introduce the uncertainty of
the momentum
~(D/2)/L, L ~ D/2 is
distance to lens
Uncertainty in electron
position for small is

To reduce uncertainty in the
momentum, we can either
increase the wavelength or
reduce the angle
But this leads to increased
uncertainty in the position,
since

u h
p
electron
2
= A
electron
x
2sin 2

A = =
u u
Physical Origin of the Uncertainty Principle
Heisenberg (Bohr) Microscope

electron
electron
electron
electron
2h
p
h
p
x
2 x
( p )( x) h
( p )( x)

A = u

A =
`
A

u =

A )
A A =
A A >
Physical Origin of the Uncertainty Principle
Heisenberg (Bohr) Microscope
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To see more clearly into the nature of uncertainty, we consider
electrons passing through a slit:
We apply the condition of
minima from single slit
diffraction,

and postulate that is the de
Broglie wavelength.

Momentum
uncertainty in the
y component
P
x
=h/
Experimental illustration of Uncertainty Principle: Single slit
diffraction.
y y
x
y
y
sin =
for small sin tan
p p
tan
p h /
p
p h
h /

u
e
u u ~ u
A A
u = =

A

= A e=
e
Since the electron can pass the slit
through anywhere over the width ,
the uncertainty in the y position of the
electron is Ay=.
p y h A A ~
sin n e u =
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which is in agreement with the uncertainty principle. If we try to
improve the accuracy of the position by decreasing the width of the slit,
the diffraction pattern will be widened. This means that the
uncertainty in momentum will increase.
The uncertainty principle is applicable to all material particles,
from electrons to large bodies occurring in mechanics. In case of large
bodies, however , the uncertainties are negligibly small compared to
the ordinary experimental errors.
y
p y h A A ~
28
2

2
and : packet ave Gaussian w a For

> A A > A A t E x p
. 1 then , and Given ~ A A A = A ~ A A x p k p x k
. 1 then , and Given ~ A A A = A ~ A A t E E t e e
Particle is highly localized in space only if its momentum is undefined.
Particles energy is accurate only if measured for a long time.
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
Example: Assume the position of an object is known so
precisely that the uncertainty in the position is only
Ay=1.510
-11
m. Determine the minimum uncertainty in
the momentum of the object and find the corresponding
minimum uncertainty in the speed if the object in an
electron.
Ap
y
=h/(4tAy)=(6.6310
-34
Js)/(4t 1.510
-11
m)

Ap
y
=3.510
-24
kg m/s small

Av
y
=Ap
y
/m=(3.510
-24
kg m/s)/(9.110
-31
kg)

Av
y
=3.910
6
m/s large

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