|San José State University|
& Tornado Alley
an Electron in the Field of a Proton
The quantum theoretic analysis of an electron in a hydrogen atom is well worked out Some would say that it p the crown jewel of the New Quantum Theory of the 1920's which replaced the Old Quantum Theory of Niels Bohr In the analysis the total energy of the hydrogen atom is negative; it is a stable system which requires an input of energy to disassocite it What is not worked out is the analysis of the case in which the electron has too much energy to be captured by the proton and passes by it going off to infinity with only a change in its direction of travel.
The analysis of this case is started with the simplified model of the electron passing through the proton as though the proton is a torus or cylinder. This keeps the analysis one dimensional.
The potential energy function is then V(r)=−α/|r| and has the shape shown below
where α is a positive constant
The Hamiltonian function for the system is
where p is the momentum of the electron and m is its mass.
The Hamiltonian operator is then
From the total energy E=½mv² −α/|r| it is found that the velocity v is given by
This can be solved analytically but it is convenient to get the solution numerically i.e.,
Here are the results of the computation.
The electron virtually jumps where it passes the proton.
Consequently the relative probability density as a function of location is
The time-dependent Schroedinger equation for the system is
The above equation is actually two equations. Let φ=ψ + iξ. The above equation is then
Consider first the case of a free electron; i.e, one in which V(r) is identically zero. The plane wave solution in that case is
where C, k and ω are constants.
For this solution
Thus C can be any value and
The kinetic energy E of the plane wave, and hence its total energy, is given by
The energy E may be taken as determining the values of k and ω. Thus the higher is the energy the more rapid are the oscillation in probability density over time and space. Also the time and spatial averages of the probability density are constant over time and space, as are the time-spent probability densities of a classical free electron.
For the simulations a plane wave may be taken to be the initital condition. The simulation is then that of what happens if a proton suddenly appeared in the path of the electron.
The dynamic equations for φ=ψ + iξ are
These equations can be expressed in matrix form as
where Φ, J and K are, respectively, the matrices
|| ξ ||
|| 0||1 ||
|| 1||0 ||
|| 0||0 ||
|| α/r||0 ||
The second derivatives are approximated by [f(r+δr)−2f(r)+f(t−δr)]/(δr)². Once the derivatives with respect to time have been computed the next value of a function is computed as g(t+δt)=g(t)+(∂g/∂t)δt.
The simulation was computed assuming (
h/(2m)) is equal to 1 and α equal to 0.1. The space and time steps were δr=0.2
and δt=0.1. Using these values the components of φ were computed one time step ahead. There values are shown below compared to their
The value of the wave function, and hence also of the probability density function, is affected only in the vicinity of the proton. Thus as the energy increases the solution involves the rapid fluctuations which are eliminated by the averaging over time and consequently what is left is the time-spent probability density distribution of classical analysis. Therefore the quantum analysis does fulfill the Correspondence Principle.
(To be continued.)
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