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Quantum Ring Sequence
Students calculate probabilities and expectation values for a quantum mechanical particle confined to a circular ring in bra/ket, matrix, and wave function representations and compare the different calculation methods. Several different graphical representations of the time dependence for both states with special symmetry and arbitrary states are explored in a Mathematica notebook. Compared to the analogous particle-in-a-box, this quantum system has a new feature---degenerate energy eigenstates.

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Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States
“Arms” is an engaging representation of complex numbers in which students use their left arms to geometrically represent numbers in the complex plane (an Argand diagram). The sequence starts with pure math activities in which students represent a single complex number (using prompts in both rectangular and exponential forms), demonstrate multiplication of complex numbers in exponential form, and act out a number of different linear transformation on pairs of complex numbers. Later activities, relevant to spin 1/2 systems in quantum mechanics, explore overall phases, relative phases, and time dependence. These activities can be combined and sequenced in many different ways; see the Instructor's Guide for the second activity for ideas about how to introduce the Arms representation the first time you use it.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Expectation Values for a Particle on a Ring
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues hermitian operators quantum measurements degeneracy expectation values time dependence

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students calculate the expectation value of energy and angular momentum as a function of time for an initial state for a particle on a ring. This state is a linear combination of energy/angular momentum eigenstates written in bra-ket notation.

face Lecture

5 min.

Central Forces Introduction: Lecture Notes
Central Forces 2023 (2 years)

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Superposition States for a Particle on a Ring

central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues quantum measurements angular momentum hermitian operators probability superposition

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students calculate probabilities for a particle on a ring whose wavefunction is not easily separated into eigenstates by inspection. To find the energy, angular momentum, and position probabilities, students perform integrations with the wavefunction or decompose the wavefunction into a superposition of eigenfunctions.

assignment Homework

Quantum concentration
bose-einstein gas statistical mechanics Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020 Consider one particle confined to a cube of side \(L\); the concentration in effect is \(n=L^{-3}\). Find the kinetic energy of the particle when in the ground state. There will be a value of the concentration for which this zero-point quantum kinetic energy is equal to the temperature \(kT\). (At this concentration the occupancy of the lowest orbital is of the order of unity; the lowest orbital always has a higher occupancy than any other orbital.) Show that the concentration \(n_0\) thus defined is equal to the quantum concentration \(n_Q\) defined by (63): \begin{equation} n_Q \equiv \left(\frac{MkT}{2\pi\hbar^2}\right)^{\frac32} \end{equation} within a factor of the order of unity.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Energy and Angular Momentum for a Quantum Particle on a Ring

central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues quantum measurements angular momentum energy hermitian operators probability superposition representations notations degeneracy

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students calculate probabilities for a particle on a ring using three different notations: Dirac bra-ket, matrix, and wave function. After calculating the angular momentum and energy measurement probabilities, students compare their calculation methods for notation.

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Time Dependence for a Quantum Particle on a Ring
Theoretical Mechanics (6 years)

central forces quantum mechanics eigenstates eigenvalues angular momentum time dependence hermitian operators probability degeneracy quantum measurements

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students calculate probabilities for energy, angular momentum, and position as a function of time for an initial state that is a linear combination of energy/angular momentum eigenstates for a particle confined to a ring written in bra-ket notation. This activity helps students build an understanding of when they can expect a quantity to depend on time and to give them more practice moving between representations.

assignment Homework

Distribution function for double occupancy statistics
Orbitals Distribution function Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Let us imagine a new mechanics in which the allowed occupancies of an orbital are 0, 1, and 2. The values of the energy associated with these occupancies are assumed to be \(0\), \(\varepsilon\), and \(2\varepsilon\), respectively.

  1. Derive an expression for the ensemble average occupancy \(\langle N\rangle\), when the system composed of this orbital is in thermal and diffusive contact with a resevoir at temperature \(T\) and chemical potential \(\mu\).

  2. Return now to the usual quantum mechanics, and derive an expression for the ensemble average occupancy of an energy level which is doubly degenerate; that is, two orbitals have the identical energy \(\varepsilon\). If both orbitals are occupied the toal energy is \(2\varepsilon\). How does this differ from part (a)?

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualization of Quantum Probabilities for the Hydrogen Atom
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Students use Mathematica to visualize the probability density distribution for the hydrogen atom orbitals with the option to vary the values of \(n\), \(\ell\), and \(m\).

group Small Group Activity

30 min.

Time Evolution of a Spin-1/2 System
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (3 years)

quantum mechanics spin precession time evolution

In this small group activity, students solve for the time dependence of two quantum spin 1/2 particles under the influence of a Hamiltonian. Students determine, given a Hamiltonian, which states are stationary and under what circumstances measurement probabilities do change with time.

assignment Homework

Phase
Complex Numbers Rectangular Form Exponential Form Square of the Norm Overall Phase Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)
  1. For each of the following complex numbers \(z\), find \(z^2\), \(\vert z\vert^2\), and rewrite \(z\) in exponential form, i.e. as a magnitude times a complex exponential phase:
    • \(z_1=i\),

    • \(z_2=2+2i\),
    • \(z_3=3-4i\).
  2. In quantum mechanics, it turns out that the overall phase for a state does not have any physical significance. Therefore, you will need to become quick at rearranging the phase of various states. For each of the vectors listed below, rewrite the vector as an overall complex phase times a new vector whose first component is real and positive. \[\left|D\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 7e^{i\frac{\pi}{6}}\\ 3e^{i\frac{\pi}{2}}\\ -1\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|E\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} i\\ 4\\ \end{pmatrix}\\ \left|F\right\rangle\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 2+2i\\ 3-4i\\ \end{pmatrix} \]

group Small Group Activity

60 min.

Going from Spin States to Wavefunctions
Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years)

Wavefunctions quantum states probability amplitude histograms matrix notation of quantum states Arms representation

Arms Sequence for Complex Numbers and Quantum States

Students review using the Arms representation to represent states for discrete quantum systems and connecting the Arms representation to histogram and matrix representation. The student then extend the Arms representation to begin exploring the continuous position basis.

assignment Homework

Frequency
Quantum Mechanics Time Evolution Spin Precession Expectation Value Bohr Frequency Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years) Consider a two-state quantum system with a Hamiltonian \begin{equation} \hat{H}\doteq \begin{pmatrix} E_1&0\\ 0&E_2 \end{pmatrix} \end{equation} Another physical observable \(M\) is described by the operator \begin{equation} \hat{M}\doteq \begin{pmatrix} 0&c\\ c&0 \end{pmatrix} \end{equation} where \(c\) is real and positive. Let the initial state of the system be \(\left|{\psi(0)}\right\rangle =\left|{m_1}\right\rangle \), where \(\left|{m_1}\right\rangle \) is the eigenstate corresponding to the larger of the two possible eigenvalues of \(\hat{M}\). What is the frequency of oscillation of the expectation value of \(M\)? This frequency is the Bohr frequency.

assignment Homework

Phase 2
quantum mechanics relative phase overall phase measurement probability Quantum Fundamentals 2022 (2 years) Consider the three quantum states: \[\left\vert \psi_1\right\rangle = \frac{4}{5}\left\vert +\right\rangle+ i\frac{3}{5} \left\vert -\right\rangle\] \[\left\vert \psi_2\right\rangle = \frac{4}{5}\left\vert +\right\rangle- i\frac{3}{5} \left\vert -\right\rangle\] \[\left\vert \psi_3\right\rangle = -\frac{4}{5}\left\vert +\right\rangle+ i\frac{3}{5} \left\vert -\right\rangle\]
  1. For each of the \(\left|{\psi_i}\right\rangle \) above, calculate the probabilities of spin component measurements along the \(x\), \(y\), and \(z\)-axes.
  2. Look For a Pattern (and Generalize): Use your results from \((a)\) to comment on the importance of the overall phase and of the relative phases of the quantum state vector.

face Lecture

120 min.

Gibbs entropy approach
Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Gibbs entropy information theory probability statistical mechanics

These lecture notes for the first week of Thermal and Statistical Physics include a couple of small group activities in which students work with the Gibbs formulation of the entropy.

assignment Homework

Mass-radius relationship for white dwarfs
White dwarf Mass Density Energy Thermal and Statistical Physics 2020

Consider a white dwarf of mass \(M\) and radius \(R\). The dwarf consists of ionized hydrogen, thus a bunch of free electrons and protons, each of which are fermions. Let the electrons be degenerate but nonrelativistic; the protons are nondegenerate.

  1. Show that the order of magnitude of the gravitational self-energy is \(-\frac{GM^2}{R}\), where \(G\) is the gravitational constant. (If the mass density is constant within the sphere of radius \(R\), the exact potential energy is \(-\frac53\frac{GM^2}{R}\)).

  2. Show that the order of magnitude of the kinetic energy of the electrons in the ground state is \begin{align} \frac{\hbar^2N^{\frac53}}{mR^2} \approx \frac{\hbar^2M^{\frac53}}{mM_H^{\frac53}R^2} \end{align} where \(m\) is the mass of an electron and \(M_H\) is the mas of a proton.

  3. Show that if the gravitational and kinetic energies are of the same order of magnitude (as required by the virial theorem of mechanics), \(M^{\frac13}R \approx 10^{20} \text{g}^{\frac13}\text{cm}\).

  4. If the mass is equal to that of the Sun (\(2\times 10^{33}g\)), what is the density of the white dwarf?

  5. It is believed that pulsars are stars composed of a cold degenerate gas of neutrons (i.e. neutron stars). Show that for a neutron star \(M^{\frac13}R \approx 10^{17}\text{g}^{\frac13}\text{cm}\). What is the value of the radius for a neutron star with a mass equal to that of the Sun? Express the result in \(\text{km}\).

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualizing Combinations of Spherical Harmonics
Central Forces 2023 (3 years) Students observe three different plots of linear combinations of spherical combinations with probability density represented by color on the sphere, distance from the origin (polar plot), and distance from the surface of the sphere.

keyboard Computational Activity

120 min.

Sinusoidal basis set
Computational Physics Lab II 2022

inner product wave function quantum mechanics particle in a box

Students compute inner products to expand a wave function in a sinusoidal basis set. This activity introduces the inner product for wave functions, and the idea of approximating a wave function using a finite set of basis functions.

computer Mathematica Activity

30 min.

Visualization of Quantum Probabilities for a Particle Confined to a Ring
Central Forces 2023 (3 years)

central forces quantum mechanics angular momentum probability density eigenstates time evolution superposition mathematica

Quantum Ring Sequence

Students see probability density for eigenstates and linear combinations of eigenstates for a particle on a ring. The three visual representations: standard position vs probability density plot, a ring with colormapping, and cylindrical plot with height and colormapping, are also animated to visualize time-evolution.