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SPIN 1/2 SYSTEMS

IN QUANTUM MECHANICS
OUTLINE OF THE COURSE
Spin systems

1. THE HILBERT SPACE FOR SPIN SYSTEMS


Complete system of observables; Basis in Hilbert space

2. THE RISING AND LOWERING OPERATORS


Spin components, rising and lowering operators

3. SPIN STATES

4. PAULI TWO-COMPONENT FORMALISM


Example of finite representation; Pauli matrices

5. FINITE ROTATIONS FOR SPIN SYSTEMS


Rotation operator, Rotations in the two-component Pauli formalism,
Spinors; Rotation matrix in terms of Euler angles (representation)
STERN - GERLACH EXPERIMENT
MAIN LESSONS
I. SPACE QUANTIZATION:

FROM THE SPLITTING OF THE BEAM IT SEEMS THAT THE ANGULAR


MOMENTUM MAY HAVE ONLY SOME SPECIFIC ORIENTATIONS IN RESPECT TO
A GIVEN SPATIAL DIRECTION; IN CLASSICAL MECHANICS ANY ORIENTATION
IN RESPECT TO A GIVEN DIRECTION IS POSSIBLE.

II. INCOMPATIBLE OBSERVABLES:

FROM THE SEQUENTIAL MEASUREMENTS OF THE SPIN ORIENTATION ALONG


DIFFERENT AXIS RESULTED THAT A MEASUREMENT ALONG A GIVEN
DIRECTION WASH OUT THE PREVIOUS INFORMATION ABOUT THE
PROJECTION ALONG A DIFFERENT DIRECTION; IN CLASSICAL MECHANICS
THE MEASUREMENTS OF THE PROJECTIONS ALONG DIFFERENT AXIS DO NOT
INFLUENCE EACH OTHER

III. THE NEED FOR SUPERPOSITION OF THE STATES:

FROM THE SPECIFIC OUTPUT FOLLOWING THE PASSAGE THROUGH THE


MAGNETIC FIELD OF THE SYSTEMS PREPARED IDENTICALLY
BASIS IN HILBERT SPACE
The results of sequential Stern-Gerlach experiments indicate that the electrons are
systems characterized by an (intrinsic) angular momentum corresponding to j=1/2.
Are observed just two possible states corresponding to the projections of spin along
z axis: m=-1/2 and m=1/2 respectively (in units of Planck constant). We denote:
1 1 1
S z ; ;
2 2 2
1 1 1
S z ;
;
2 2 2
According to the angular momentum theory the commuting observables are
2

S , S z 0.
We can write: 2 1 1 1 1
S S z ; ( 1) 2 S z ;
2 2 2 2
1 1 1
S z S z ; Sz ;
2 2 2
The Hilbert space associated with spin systems is TWO-DIMENSIONAL and
1 1
z
S ; ; S z ;
2 2

is a basis in this Hilbert space.


THE OBSERVABLES POSTULATE OF QUANTUM MECHANICS

THE PHYSICAL QUANTITIES (OBSERVABLES) IN QUANTUM MECHANICS


ARE DESCRIBED THROUGH THE LINEAR HERMITIAN OPERATORS.

THE POSSIBLE VALUES AN OBSERVABLE MAY ASSUME AS A


RESULT OF A MEASUREMENT ARE AMONG THE EIGENVALUES OF
THE ASSOCIATED HERMITIAN OPERATOR.
THE OUTER PRODUCT

The scalar product IS A SCALAR (A COMPLEX NUMBER)

The outer product : IS A LINEAR OPERATOR

warning! do not try toseparate (split) into two symbols :


the ket and the bra ; this is meaningles s

The action of the operator is defined as follows:

( )
: H H (H is the Hilbert space)

The hermitian conjugate of this operator is:

( )
PROJECTION OPERATOR
Let us consider the expansion of an arbitrary state in terms of a basis:

En En ( En En ) I
n 1 n 1

Observe that we obtain a sum of outer product operators:



I En En spectral resolution of identity operator
n 1
It is clear that the effect of the projection operator:
n En En projection operator
upon an arbitrary state
ci Ei
i 1

it is to select the corresponding state from the expansion factorized by its coefficient:

n En En c
i 1
i Ei ci En En Ei cn En
i 1
Analogously it is possible to obtain the spectral resolution of an Hermitian operator H
by observing that:

H H En En En En En ( En En En )
n 1 n 1 n 1

H En En En spectral resolution of the hermitian operator H
n 1
APPLICATION TO THE SPIN CASE
THE RESOLUTION OF IDENTITY:
1

2
1 1 1 1
I 1
Sz ; m Sz ; m Sz ;
2
Sz ;
2
S z ;
2
S z ;
2
m
2

THE RESOLUTION OF z-component of SPIN OPERATOR:


1

2
1 1 1 1
Sz 1
m S z ; m S z ; m
2
Sz ;
2
Sz ; S z ;
2 2 2
S z ;
2
m
2

THE RISING AND LOWERING OPERATORS:

1 1
S1 S z ; S z ;
2 2
1 1
S2 S z ; S z ;
2 2
THE PHYSICAL MEANING OF THE OPERATORS S1 AND S2:
Let us consider the action of the last two operators upon the basis states in spin space:

1 1 1 1 1
S1 S z ; S z ; S z ; z
S ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
S1 S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ; 0
2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
S 2 S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ; 0
2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1
S 2 S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2

S1 RISES THE SPIN z-COMPONENT BY ONE UNIT OF PLANCK CONSTANT


S2 LOWERS THE SPIN z-COMPONENT BY ONE UNIT OF PLANK CONSTANT

S1 S ; S2 S
THE OPERATORS Sx AND Sy
From the sequential SG experiments resulted that when a beam of electrons in the state
1
S x ;
2
is subjected to a measurement of SGz type, the beam splits into two components with
equal intensities. This means that the probability of the system to jump into the eigenstate
with positive z-projection is equal to the probability jump into the state with negative
z-projection:
2
1 1 1 1 1 1
S z ; S x ; S z ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
1 1 1 1 1 1
S z ; S x ; S z ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2
However we remark that the two scalar products can be determined only up to a phase
factor.
1
THE EXPANSION OF S x ;
2
Since the eigenvectors of an Hermitian operators generate a basis in Hilbert space:

ai ai
i
we have:

1 1 1 1 1 1 1
S x ; S z ; S x ; S z ; S z ; S x ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
Up to a global phase factor, taking into account the discussion concerning the values of

1 1 1 1
S z ; S x ; and S z ; S x ;
2 2 2 2
it is introduced the following expansion:

1 1 1 ei 1 1
S x ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
ANALOGOUSLY:
From the sequential SG experiments resulted that when a beam of electrons in the state
1
S x ;
2

is subjected to an measurement of SGz type the beam splits into two components with
equal intensities. This means that the probability of the system to jump into the eigenstate
with positive z-projection is equal to the probability jump into the state with negative
z-projection:
2
1 1 1 1 1 1
S z ; S x ; S z ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
1 1 1 1 1 1
S z ; S x ; S z ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2

Also in this case the two scalar products can be determined only up to a phase factor.
1
THE EXPANSION OF S x ;
Since: 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 1
S x ; S z ; S x ; S z ; S z ; S x ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2 2 2
up to a global phase factor, taking into account the discussion concerning the values of
1 1 1 1
S z ; S x ; and S z ; S x ;
2 2 2 2
we shall have:
1 1 1 ei 1 1
S x ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
With this choice it is observed that the scalar product of the states with different
x-components vanish:
1 1 1 1 1 1 i1 1 1 ei 1 1
S x ; S x ; S z ; S z ; e S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
1 e i1 ei1
0
2 2
as expected, since these vectors are eigenstates of a Hermitian operator and so
should be orthogonal.
SUMMARY

Let us summarize the two important results attained until now:

1 1 1 ei 1 1
S x ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2

1 1 1 ei 1 1
S x ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2

Is observed that remains the problem of determining the phase factor 1


Sx OPERATOR
Let us proof that the operator Sx can be expressed as follow:

i1 1 1 1 1
Sx e S z ; S z ; ei1 S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
Proof: we start from the spectral resolution of the operator Sx and then employ the
previous results concerning the expansion of eigenvectors of Sx

1 1 1 1
S x S x ; S x ; S x ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1 ei 1 1 1 1 1 1 i1
S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ; e
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

2 1 1 e i 1
1 1 1 1 1 i1
S ; S z ; ) S z ; S z ; e
2 z 2
2 2 2 2 2 2
i1 1 1 i1 1 1
e S z ; S z ; e S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
Sy OPERATOR

A fully analogous discussion for the y-component of spin leads to the following results:

1 1 1 ei 2 1
S y ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2

1 1 1 ei 2 1
S y ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2

i 2 1 1 i 2 1 1
S y e S z ; S z ; e S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2

Is observed that remains the problem of determining the phase factor 2


THE DETERMINATION OF PHASE FACTORS 1 , 2
For our goal we have to employ a different piece of information from SG experiment;
we shall consider a beam prepared in the state |Sx; > which passes through an SGy
set-up. It is observed experimentally that also in this case the initial beam splits into
two beams of equal intensity. Then:
2
1 1 1 1 1 1
S y ; S x ; S y ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2
2
1 1 1 1 1 1
S y ; S x ; S y ; S x ;
2 2 2 2 2 2
Using the expansions obtained previously for |Sx;1/2> and |Sy;1/2> in terms of |Sz;m>:

1 1 1 1 e i 2 1 1 1 ei1 1 1 ei (1 2 )
S y ; S x ; S z ; S z ; Sz ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1
1 ei (1 2 ) 1 cos(1 2 ) i sin(1 2 ) 2
2 2
(1 cos(1 2 )) 2 sin 2 (1 2 ) 2 1 2 cos(1 2 ) cos 2 (1 2 ) sin 2 (1 2 ) 2

0 and
1 2
2
1 2
2
cos(1 2 ) 0
1 2 1 0 and 2 when work in a right - handed SC

2 2
FINAL SUMMARY
Let us summarize the important results obtained until now:

1 1 1 1 1
S x ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1
S x ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
S x S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 i 1
S y ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 i 1
S y ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
Sy i S z ; S z ; i S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
A SIMPLE APPLICATION

Consider a spin system being in the state |Sz;1/2>.


What is the probability to observe the system with

the spin projection along positive direction of the
axis defined by the versor n
1
S z ; the initial state
z 2


n

y
x
SOLUTION
1
S n; the final state n (nx , n y , nz ) (sin cos , sin sin , cos )
2
1 1 1 1
1 S n; a S z ; b S z ;
S n S n ; S n ; 2 2 2
2 2 2

BUT:

1 1 1 1
S n S x nx S y n y S z nz sin cos S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
sin sin i S z ; S z ; i S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
1 1 1 1
cos z
S ; S z ; S z ; S z ;
2 2 2 2 2
SOLUTION:CONTINUATION

1 1 1 1 1 1 1
S x n x S n ; sin cos S z ; S z ; S z ; Sz ; ( a S z ; b S z ; )
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1
sin cos b S z ; a S z ;
2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 1
S y n y S n ; sin sin i S z ; S z ; i S z ; Sz ; ( a S z ; b S z ; )
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1
sin sin ib S z ; ia S z ;
2 2 2
1 1 1 1 1 1 1
S z n z S n ; cos S z ; S z ; S z ; S z ; ( a S z ; b S z ; )
2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2
1 1
cos a S z ; b S z ;
2 2 2
SOLUTION:CONTINUATION
1
b sin cos ib sin sin a cos S z ;
1
S n S n ;
2 2 2

a sin cos ia sin sin b cos S z ; 1
2 2
1 1 1 1
S n S n; S n; (a S z ; b S z ; )
2 2 2 2 2 2

b sin cos ib sin sin a cos a



a sin cos ia sin sin b cos b
b sin e i a cos 1 0
i
b( cos 1) a sin e 0
sin 2 (cos 2 1) 0

1 cos i sin
b sin e i a cos 1 0 b a e ba 2 ei
sin
cos
2
SOLUTION:CONTINUATION

2
2 2
2 sin

2 2 a cos
b a
2
2
cos
2 b 2 sin 2
a 2 b2 1
2

PAULI TWO-COMPONENT FORMALISM
REALIZATION OF THE KET VECTORS
Let us consider A and B two different hermitian operators with discrete spectrum. We have:
A ai ai ai ai ai
i

B bi bi bi bi bi
i
The components of the vector can be written as column matrices and we can establish the
corespondences : a1 b1

a2 b2

3 a 3 b

a4 or b4
.......... ..........

n a n b
........... ...........

Then for the bra vectors we can introduce a similar correspondence to row matrices:

a1
*
a2
*
a3 ...... an ...
* *
or
b b2 b3 ...... bn ...
* * * *
1

When the ket and bra are realized in terms of matrices the scalar product of two vectors
Is the product between the corresponding row and column matrices.
REALIZATION OS THE VECTORS FOR SPIN CASE
For a vector state which belongs to the spin Hilbert space let us consider the expansion:
1
Sz ; m Sz ; m
m
2
The realization of the vector, associated to this basis, is a column vector with two elements
1
S z ;

2
1
S z ;
2
while the realization of the corresponding bra is a row vector with two elements:

1
*
1
*

S z ; S z ;

2 2
MATRICES ASSOCIATED TO THE BASIS VECTORS
For the basis vectors states results the following correspondences:

1 1
S z ; S z ;
S z ;
1

2 2 1
0
2 1
S z ; S z ;
1

2 2
1 1
S z ; S z ;
2 0

1 2
S z ;
2 1 1 1
S z ; S z ;
2 2

while the realization of the corresponding bra are row matrices:

* *

1 1
S z ; S z ; S z ;
1 1
S z ; S z ;
1 1 0
2 2 2 2 2

* *

1 1
S z ; S z ; S z ;
1 1
S z ; S z ;
1 0 1
2 2 2 2 2

REALIZATION OF THE OPERATORS

Let us observe that:

B B a j a j B a j a j
j j

ai ai B a j a j
j

The last relation can be written as a product between a square matrix (the realization of
the operator B) and a column matrix (the realization of the initial state), the result being
a column vector (the realization of the new state):

a1 a1 B a1 a1 B a2 .............. a1

a2 a2 B a1 a2 B a2 ............. a2

.......... ............ ............ ..........
a a Ba ............ a
n n 1
n
........... ............ ............ ............ ...........

PAULI MATRICES
Definition: Pauli Matrices are matrices associated to the three operators
corresponding to the components of the spin, obtained as realizations
associated to the spin basis Sz ; 1 ; Sz ; 1
2 2

( k )mm ' S z ; m Sk S z ; m'
2
Explicitly: 1 1 1 1
S z ; Sk S z ; S z ; Sk S z ;

k
2 2 2 2
2 1 1 1 1
S z ; Sk S z ; S z ; Sk S z ;
2 2 2 2

0 1 Basic properties:
1 x
1 0 Tr i 0 ; Det i 1 ; i2 1
0 i , 2
i j ; i , j 2i ijk k
ij
2 y
i 0 ( a )(b ) a b I ( a b )
1 0 a3 a1 ia 2
3 z a ai i
0 1 a1 ia 2 a3