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SUPERPOSITION PRINCIPLE

IN QUANTUM MECHANICS
OUTLINE OF THE COURSE

A. FROM STERN-GERLACH EXPERIMENT TO THE


STATE CONCEPT IN QUANTUM MECHANICS

1. THE MAIN PHYSICAL RESULTS FROM S-G EXPERIMENT

2. THE PHYSICAL STATE IN QUANTUM MECHANICS

3. SUPERPOSITION PRINCIPLE OF THE STATES IN QM

4. MATHEMATICAL FORMULATION: THE HILBERT SPACE

5. DIRAC FORMALISM: STATE VECTORS KET VECTORS


STERN - GERLACH EXPERIMENT (1922)
STERN-GERLACH EXPERIMENT: EXPERIMENTAL SET-UP

1
rQ j (rQ ) dVQ
2V


j ( rQ ) qv ( rQ r (t ))

1 1 1 1
rQ j ( rQ )dVQ q rQ v( r ) ( rQ r (t ))dVQ qr (t ) v(t ) L
2V 2 V 2 2m

U B
Bz
F gradU grad ( B ) z ez
z
PROOF:
Let us consider a localized currents distribution in an inhomogeneous magnetic field :

FL j (rQ ) B(rQ )dVQ
V

If the magnetic field has a week var iation over the volume of currents distribution :

B j e j )
B( rQ ) B(0) xiQ ( ) rQ 0 B(0) ( rQ gradO B j )e j

xiQ
Then the Lorenz force :
B j
FL ( j ( rQ )dVQ ) B(0) j ( rQ ) e j ( rQ gradO B j )dVQ ek e j jk ( rQ ) xiQ ( )O dVQ
V V V
xiQ

FL el lkj jk ( rQ ) xiQ bi( j ) dVQ
V

where : 0 rQ div j ( rQ ) dVQ ei xiQ div j ( rQ ) dVQ ei div ( xiQ j ( rQ ))dVQ ei grad ( xiQ ) j ( rQ )dVQ
B j V V V V

b( j)
( )O
ei ki ek j (rQ )dVQ ei ji (rQ )dVQ j (rQ )dVQ
xiQ
i
V V V

In deriving the last row we employed :




V
div ( xiQ j ( rQ )) dVQ iQ j (rQ ) ndaQ 0
x
S (V )
j (rQ ) n 0
PROOF: CONTINUATION

j ( r ) x ji Q ) x kQ
( r
FL el lkj jk ( rQ ) xiQ bi dVQ el lkj bi ( j) k Q
dVQ
( j) iQ

V V
2

j ( r ) x j ( r ) x el lkj ( j)
el lkj bi ( j) k Q
dVQ i Q )) dVQ
iQ i Q kQ ( j)
( j ( r
k Q i )b x iQ x b
kQ i j ( r
V
2 2 V

el lkj ( j ) ( j) 1

2 V [b ( j ( rQ ) rQ )]k dVQ el lkj [b ( ) rQ j ( rQ )dVQ ]k
2V
( j)
el lkj [b ]k el lkj kmn bm( j ) n el ljk mnk bm( j ) n el ( lm jn ln jm )bm( j ) n
( j) ( j) B j B j
el bl j el b j l el ( ) O j el ( ) O l gradO ( B ) ( divB ) O
xlQ x jQ

gradO ( B )

Since the net force acting upon the magnetic dipole results from a gradient is deduced
that the potential energy of the magnetic dipole moment in a magnetic field is :

U M B
No magnetic field What was expected What was observed
STERN - GERLACH EXPERIMENT: POSSIBLE STATES

1
SPIN-UP STATE
S Z ;
2

1
SPIN-DOWN STATE S Z ;
2
THE CONCEPT OF PHYSICAL STATE

For any microscopic system the various possible motions of particles or bodies consistent
with the interaction between them represents the possible states of that system.

DEFINITION: a physical state of a system may be defined as an


undisturbed motion that is restricted by as many as
conditions or data as are theoretically possible without
mutual interference or contradictions

PRACTICALLY: the conditions could be imposed by a suitable preparation of


the system, consisting perhaps in passing it through various
kinds of sorting apparatus, as discussed in the S-G experiment,
named FILTERS.
STERN - GERLACH EXPERIMENT: A SCHEMATIC DRAW

1
S Z ;
2
SGz S Z ;
1
2

IF THE BEAM SPLITTING TAKES PLACE ALONG Ox-AXIS OR Oy-AXIS WE HAVE:

1
S X ;
2
SGX S X ;
1
2

1
SY ;
2
SGY SY ;
1
2
SEQUENTIAL STERN - GERLACH EXPERIMENTS

State with positive projection


of magnetic moment along z axis

State with negative projection


of magnetic moment along z axis
STERN - GERLACH EXPERIMENT
THE 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
THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF SUPERPOSITION IN QM

Between the states of a quantum system there


exists peculiar relationships such that whenever
the system is definitely in one state we can consider
it as being partly in two or more states

The original state must be regarded as the result of a kind of SUPERPOSITION of the
two or more other new states, in a way that cannot be conceived on classical ideas.

E. WIGNER: SUPERPOSITION OF THE STATES IT IS ONE OF THE MOST


ASTONISHING FEATURES OF MICROSCOPIC WORLD
THE NON-CLASSICAL FEATURES OF THE SUPERPOSITION
PROCESS IN QM

State X State Y Superposed state X+Y

observation observation observation

Result x Result y Result x OR Result y

CLASSICAL EXPECTED OUTPUT IS A unique Result x+y


Example: classical wave superposition

The quantum superposition principle demands indeterminacy in the results of the


observations in order to be capable of a sensible physical interpretation.
(See the measurement postulate of QM)
CONCLUSION

NEED OF THE DEPARTURE FROM PRINCIPLES


OF CLASSICAL MECHANICS

INTRODUCE A NEW MATHEMATICAL FORMALISM ABLE TO


INCORPORATE CONSISTENTLY THE NEW EXPERIMENTAL FINDINGS
DIRAC VIEW
A NEW MATHEMATICAL
SCHEME
The physical concepts,
objects, etc, are
represented by
mathematical quantities

REQUIREMENT TO
BECOME A PHYSICAL THEORY

When all the axioms and rules of manipulation governing


the mathematical quantities are specified.

AND
Certain laws are laid down connecting physical facts
with the mathematical formalism.
MATHEMATICAL STRUCTURES

ALGEBRAIC ORDERING

TOPOLOGICAL
THE HILBERT SPACE

THE STATES OF A QUANTUM SYSTEM ARE


REPRESENTED BY VECTORS IN A HILBERT SPACE

TO EACH PHYSICAL SYSTEM WE SHALL ASSOCIATE A


HILBERT SPACE CONTAINING ALL POSSIBLE STATES
OF THAT SYSTEM.

A STATE WILL CONTAIN ALL POSSIBLE INFORMATION


WHICH CAN BE LEARNED ABOUT THE SYSTEM.
THE HILBERT SPACE (H )

I. IS A LINEAR VECTOR SPACE


PRE-HILBERT
SPACE
II. IS ENDOWED WITH A SCALAR PRODUCT

III. BASIS IN HILBERT SPACE: finite dimensional vs. infinite


dimensional case.

IV. THE SPACE H IS COMPLETE

V. THE SPACE H IS SEPARABLE

For a detailed discussion see:


J. Von NEUMANN, MATHEMATICAL FOUNDATIONS
OF QUANTUM MECHANICS
VECTORS ADDITION AND MULTIPLICATIONS WITH SCALARS

"": H H H

( ) ( )
() 0V H , such that 0V , () H

"": K H H a, b, c K ; , , H
a (b ) (ab)
a ( ) a a
(a b) a b
() 0S K , such that 0S 0V , () H
() 1S K such that 1S , () H
THE SCALAR PRODUCT

" ( , )": H H C

( , ) 0 and ( , ) 0 if AND only if 0V


( , ) ( , )*
( , a ) a ( , )
( , ) ( , ) ( , )
COMPLETE SPACE; SEPARABLE SPACE
A PRE-HILBERT SPACE HAVING THE NUMBER OF VECTORS LINEAR
INDEPENDENTS ARBITRARLY GREAT (INFINITE DIMENSIONAL) HAS A
STRUCTURE OF HILBERT SPACE IF IT IS COMPLETE

THE SPACE IS COMPLETE IF GIVEN A SEQUENCE OF THE SPACE WHICH SATISFY


THE CAUCHY CONVERGENCE CRITERIUM, THEN IT HAS A LIMIT AND THE LIMIT
BELONGS TO THAT SPACE.
() 0 () N N ( ) such that || m n ||
Cauchy criterium:
() m, n N
We consider only Hilbert spaces which are everywhere dense in H:
A HILBERT SPACE IS SEPARABLE IF THERE EXISTS DENUMERABLE SEQUENCES
WHICH ARE EVERYWHERE DENSE IN THAT SPACE.

() H () {n } D such that || n || 0 as n
IF THE HILBERT SPACE IS SEPARABLE IT IS POSSIBLE TO FIND A COUNTABLE
SET OF BASIS VECTORS WHICH ARE COMPLETE, IN THE SENSE THAT ANY
GIVEN VECTOR CAN BE REPRESENTED ARBITRARLY CLOSELY BY A LINEAR
COMBINATION OF THESE BASIS VECTORS.
DUAL SPACE
REMAINDER:

1. TO ANY LINEAR VECTOR SPACE V THERE EXIST THE DUAL SPACE OF THE
LINEAR FUNCTIONALS ON V.

2. A LINEAR FUNCTIONAL F ASSIGNS A SCALAR TO EACH VECTOR:

F :V C
() , V ;
F (a b ) aF ( ) bF ( ) () a, b C
3. THE ADDITION OF LINEAR FUNCTIONALS

( F1 F2 )( ) F1 ( ) F2 ( )

INDUCES A STRUCTURE OF LINEAR VECTOR SPACE V*, NAMED DUAL SPACE


RIESZ THEOREM

THERE IS A ONE-TO-ONE CORRESPONDENCE (i.e. AN ISOMORFISM) BETWEEN


THE LINEAR FUNCTIONALS OF THE DUAL SPACE AND THE VECTORS OF
LINEAR VECTOR SPACE V, SUCH THAT ALL LINEAR FUNCTIONALS HAVE THE
FOLLOWING FORM:

F ( ) ( , ) () V

AND HERE IS A FIXED VECTOR.


RIESZ THEOREM:PROOF
1) The correspondence f F
For any given vector f in V can be defined the functional Ff : V C as :
Ff ( ) ( f , )
and so to any vector f corresponds a functional F.
2) The correspondence F f
Let us show that for an arbitrary linear functional F we can construct a unique vector f
that satisfy : F( ) ( f , ). Let be n an orthonormal basis in vectorial space V.
(n , m ) m ,n and let be cnn and arbitrary vector in V. Then :
n

F ( ) cn F (n )
n

With the complex numbers F (n ) let us construct the vector which belongs to V :
f [ F (n )]*n
n

It is observed that :
( f , ) ( [ F (n )]*n , cmm ) F (n )cm (n , m ) cn F (n ) F ( )
n m n m n

i.e. for F the corresponding f is [ F (n )]*n


n
DIRAC NOTATIONS

WHEN WE REFFER TO A PHYSICAL SYSTEMS, THE STATES WHICH


BELONG TOTHE HILBERT SPACE WILL BE DENOTED AS BELOW:

a KET vector
THE ADDITION OF TWO VECTORS WILL REPRESENT PHYSICALLY THE
SUPERPOSITION OF THE CORRESPONDING STATES

c1 1 c2 2

IF 1 , 2 , 3 ,, N REPRESENTS A BASIS IN A HILBERT SPACE

THEN AN ARBITRARY STATE CAN BE EXPANDED AS:


N
c1 1 c2 2 c3 3 cN N ci i
i 1
DIRAC NOTATIONS
THE ELEMENTS OF THE DUAL SPACE H* OF HILBERT SPACE, i.e. THE LINEAR
FUNCTIONALS FROM H TO THE SET OF COMPLEX NUMBERS ARE
REPRESENTED AS:
a BRA vector *
DUE TO THE ISOMORFISM BETWEEN ANY LINEAR SPACE AND ITS DUAL A BRA
VECTOR CHARACTERIZES EQUALLY WELL THE STATES OF THE SYSTEM.

c DUAL
CONJUGATIO
N
c*
THE SCALAR PRODUCT OF TWO PHYSICAL STATES CAN BE SEEN AS THE
EFFECT OF THE APPLICATION OF THE BRA CORRESPONDING TO FIRST STATE
UPON THE KET ASSOCIATED TO THE SECOND STATE:

( 1 , 2 ) 1 ( 2 ) 1 2
SCHWARZ INEQUALITY:
| ||| || || ||
Proof : consider t he linear combinatio n : *
The scalar product properties implies that :
( * )( ) 0
* 0 () C
2


With - results :

| |2
0

2

2 | |2 | |2 0
| ||| || || || q.e.d.