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Linear Harmonic Oscillator

Energy levels, wave functions,


zero energy level

Objectives

The most important example of elementary Quantum Mechanics


- the linear harmonic oscillator describes vibrations in molecules
and their counterparts in solids, the phonons
-many more physical systems can, at least approximetely, be
described using this model
-the modes of the electromagnetic field (photons- bosons)
provide the conceptual building blocks of microscopic physics
(field quantization)
-string theory (Great Unification Theory in physics)

The Schrdinger equation for the harmonic oscillator


V(x)
V(x)=1/2Kx2

The time-dependant Schrdinger equation:

ih ( x , t ) = H ( x , t )
t
The stationary solutions have the form
where
is determined by

h2 2
[
+ V ( x )]( x ) = E( x )
2m

The Schrdinger equation is modified to


achieve a convinient mathematical form:
where

h2 2 1 2
[
+ Kx ]( x ) = E( x )
2m
2
d2
2

)
+
(

) ( ) = 0
2
d

=x (dimensionalless)
4=42 mK/h2,
dimensionless eigenvalue
=(4E/h) (m/)1/2=4/hc
c= (K/m)1/2 is the angular frequency
of the corresponding classical
harmonic oscillator

From the theory of differential equations the exact


solution can be of the form (Sommerfeld 1929):
It is satisfying:

( ) = H ( )e

1 2

H() is polynomial of finite order n in (n)

-dominant behavior of in the asymptotic


region ->+/-~ , n has to be finite
-the boundary conditions (the integral of
probability function has to converge

Substitution to the Schrdinger equation:

H ( )'' 2H ' + ( 1) H = 0

(*)

Solutions are found assuming H in the form:

H ( ) = s (a0 + a1 + a2 + ...)

a0 0

s0

(**)

Assumption:
The equation (*) is to be valid for all values of , so that, once we substitude
H into the equation, the coefficient of each power of can be equated to zero
s(s-1)a0=0
(s+1)sa1=0

s=0, s=1
s=0 or a1=0 or both

(s+2)(s+1)a2-(2s+0+1-)a0=0

(s+2)(s+1)a2-(2s+2+1-)a1=0

Then reccurence solution can


be derived

...........................................
(s++2)(s++1)a+2-(2s+2+1-)a=0

is an integer

Discussion of the validity of the calcualted coefficients


1. H() can be chosen to be either even or odd in
(see particle in the box problem and the parity discussion)
and therefore a1 and all the other odd-subsript coefficients are zero.
The wave function is then even or odd, accordingly (s=0 or s=1; see (**))
2. The existance of a finite or infinite number of terms depends on the choice of
s and the ( is related to eigenvalue E/hc). The series (**) must terminate
and therefore =2s+2+1.
For s=0 or 1, one obtains =2+1 or 2 + 3 and this value is related
to even or odd wave function.
Both cases can be expressed in terms of quantum number n:

= 2n + 1

1 h
En = ( n + )
2 c

n = 0,

1,

2, ...

Wave functions
The quantum number n is the highest value of s+ in the series for H. It
will be denoted that Hn is of degree n in and is even or odd according
as n is even or odd.

Hn() is known as nth Hermite polynomial


The corresponding eigenfunction n () has the parity of n and
has n nodes.

n ( ) = N n H n (x )e

1 2 2
x
2

First three memebers are of the form

H 0 (x ) = 1

H 1 (x ) = 2

H 2 (x ) = 4(x )2 2

Generating function for the Hermite polynomians


There is a convinient formulation which expresses the Hn in terms
of a generating function:

S ( , s ) = e

s 2 + 2 s

n= 0

H n ( ) n
s
n!

This enables to obtain an expression for the nth Hermite polynomial:

n
H n ( ) = ( 1) e
e
n

n 2

Other interesting relationships are:

H 'n = 2nH n1
H n+1 = 2H n 2nH n1

Orthogonality and normalization


of the harmonic oscyllator wave functions
The generating function is useful for the calculations of integrals involving
the harmonic oscillator wave functions.
One can easily prove that the harmonic oscillator wave functions are orthogonal
and the normalization constant Nn can be obtained from normalization procedure:

n ( x ) dx =
2

Nn

2
H
(

)
e
d = 1
n
2

The integral on the right can be expressed as a series coefficient in the expansion
of an integral containing the product of two generating functions

s 2 + 2 s t 2 + 2 t 2

d =

n= 0 m = 0

1 / 2 2 st

1/ 2

( 2 st )n

n= 0 n!

s nt m
H n ( ) H m ( )e d

n! m!
2

And one has to equate powers of s and t in series


on the right side.

)e

H n2 (

d = 1 / 2 2n n!

H n ( ) H m ( )e d = 0
2

nm

orthogonality

From the first equation one can deried that the normalizing constant can be chosen:

Nn = (

( 1 / 2 2n n! )

)1 / 2

Stationary states (x)


of the harmonic oscillator for n=0, 1, 2, 3, 4

2 ( x ) = ( 1 / 2 )1 / 2 [4(x )2 2]e
2

1/ 2
1 ( x ) = ( 1 / 2 ) 2xe
2

0 ( x ) = ( 1 / 2 )1 / 2 e

1 2 2
x
2

1 2 2
x
2

1 2 2
x
2

Properties of the solution:


1. There is infinite sequence of energy levels and the equal spacing between them
2. The ground state energy has the finite value 1/2h/c zero-point energy
and is related to the uncertainty principle

( p ) 2
+ K ( x ) 2
m

the total energy


p, x are measures of the spreads in the momentum
and position, and

Minimizing this energy by taking the derivative with respect to the position x
energy and setting it equal to zero gives
energy allowed:

and minimum value of the total

The ground state energy has the finite value hc

This is a very significant physical result because it tells us that the energy of a
system described by a harmonic oscillator potential cannot have zero energy.
Physical systems such as atoms in a solid lattice or in polyatomic molecules in a
gas cannot have zero energy even at absolute zero temperature. The energy of
the ground vibrational state is often referred to as "zero point vibration".
The zero point energy is for instance sufficient to prevent liquid helium-4 from
freezing at atmospheric pressure, no matter how low the temperature.

3. Correspondance with classical theory


The position probability densities associated with these stationary wave functions
have a little resemblance to the corresponding densities for classical harmonic
oscillator for low n but for large n the agreement is fairly good on the average
(discrepancy: rapid oscillations).
The expectation values:
-the expectation value for the potential energy:

1
1 (E -is the total energy)
1
1 2n + 1 1
= n* Kx 2n ( x )dx = K
=
(
n
+
)
h

=
En n
c
2
2
2
2
2
2
2

-the expectation value for the position and momentum


<x>=<p>=0 for any harmonic oscillator wave function
4. The uncertainty product x p=(n+1/2)h/2 and it is h/2 for the ground state
eigenfunction

It is of the form of the minimum packet.

Picture of wavefunctions (and energy levels)


of quantum harmonic oscillator