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This set of activities explores completeness relations in quantum mechanics and how they eventually support understanding of wavefunctions and what it means to be in the position or momentum representatations.

Activities

Students work in small groups to use completeness relations to change the basis of quantum states.
  1. Given the polar basis kets written as a superposition of Cartesian kets \begin{eqnarray*} \left|{\hat{s}}\right\rangle &=& \cos\phi \left|{\hat{x}}\right\rangle + \sin\phi \left|{\hat{y}}\right\rangle \\ \left|{\hat{\phi}}\right\rangle &=& -\sin\phi \left|{\hat{x}}\right\rangle + \cos\phi \left|{\hat{y}}\right\rangle \end{eqnarray*}

    Find the following quantities: \[\left\langle {\hat{x}}\middle|{\hat{s}}\right\rangle ,\quad \left\langle {\hat{y}}\middle|{{\hat{s}}}\right\rangle ,\quad \left\langle {\hat{x}}\middle|{\hat{\phi}}\right\rangle ,\quad \left\langle {\hat{y}}\middle|{\hat{\phi}}\right\rangle \]

  2. Given a vector written in the polar basis \[\left|{\vec{v}}\right\rangle = a\left|{\hat{s}}\right\rangle + b\left|{\hat{\phi}}\right\rangle \] where \(a\) and \(b\) are known. Find coefficients \(c\) and \(d\) such that \[\left|{\vec{v}}\right\rangle = c\left|{\hat{x}}\right\rangle + d\left|{\hat{y}}\right\rangle \] Do this by using the completeness relation: \[\left|{\hat{x}}\right\rangle \left\langle {\hat{x}}\right| + \left|{\hat{y}}\right\rangle \left\langle {\hat{y}}\right| = 1\]
  3. Using a completeness relation, change the basis of the spin-1/2 state \[\left|{\Psi}\right\rangle = g\left|{+}\right\rangle + h\left|{-}\right\rangle \] into the \(S_y\) basis. In otherwords, find \(j\) and \(k\) such that \[\left|{\Psi}\right\rangle = j\left|{+}\right\rangle _y + k\left|{-}\right\rangle _y\]

Small Group Activity

30 min.

\(|\pm\rangle\) Forms an Orthonormal Basis
Student explore the properties of an orthonormal basis using the Cartesian and \(S_z\) bases as examples.
In this lecture, the instructor guides a discussion about translating between bra-ket notation and wavefunction notation for quantum systems.
  1. \(\left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle =1\) Identify and discuss the dimensions of \(\left|{\Psi}\right\rangle \).
  2. For a spin \(\frac{1}{2}\) system, \(\left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{+}\right\rangle \left\langle {+}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle + \left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{-}\right\rangle \left\langle {-}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle =1\). Identify and discuss the dimensions of \(\left|{+}\right\rangle \) and \(\left|{-}\right\rangle \).
  3. In the position basis \(\int \left\langle {\Psi}\middle|{x}\right\rangle \left\langle {x}\middle|{\Psi}\right\rangle dx = 1\). Identify and discuss the dimesions of \(\left|{x}\right\rangle \).

Writing an operator in matrix notation in its own basis is easy: it is diagonal with the eigenvalues on the diagonal.

What if I want to calculate the matrix elements using a different basis??

The eigenvalue equation tells me what happens when an operator acts on its own eigenstate. For example: \(\hat{S}_y\left|{\pm}\right\rangle _y=\pm\frac{\hbar}{2}\left|{\pm}\right\rangle _y\)

In Dirac bra-ket notation, to know what an operator does to a ket, I need to write the ket in the basis that is the eigenstates of the operator (in order to use the eigenvalue equation.)

One way to do this is to stick completeness relationships into the braket: \begin{eqnarray*} \left\langle {+}\right|\hat{S_y}\left|{+}\right\rangle = \left\langle {+}\right|(I)\hat{S_y}(I)\left|{+}\right\rangle \end{eqnarray*}

where \(I\) is the identity operator: \(I=\color{blue}{\left|{+}\right\rangle _{yy}\left\langle {+}\right|}\;+\;\color{blue}{\left|{-}\right\rangle _{yy}\left\langle {-}\right|}\). This effectively rewrites the \(\left|{+}\right\rangle \) in the \(\left|{\pm}\right\rangle _y\) basis.

Find the top row matrix elements of the operator \(\hat{S}_y\) in the \(S_z\) basis by inserting completeness relations into the brakets. (The answer is already on the Spins Reference Sheet, but I want you to demonstrate the calculation.)

  • Found in: Quantum Fundamentals course(s) Found in: Completeness Relations sequence(s)

Small Group Activity

30 min.

Outer Product of a Vector on Itself
Students compute the outer product of a vector on itself to product a projection operator. Students discover that projection operators are idempotent (square to themselves) and that a complete set of outer products of an orthonormal basis is the identity (a completeness relation).