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# Me

## hani s (I) TA Re itation: Os illation

Chih-En Chou
* 1,2

1
Department of Physi s, National Taiwan University
2
Leung Center for Cosmology and Parti le Astrophysi s, National Taiwan
University

## 1 Simple Harmoni Os illator

A simple harmoni os illator (SHO) is a system satisfying the equation of motion
ẍ + ω 2 x = 0 (1)
where the dot on top means taking time derivative and ω is the natural frequen y of the
os illation. Note that it is a linear ordinary dierential equation (linear ODE) so that
any linear ombination of solutions is still a solution. This omes from the fa t that the
restoring for e is linear F = −kx. The reason why it is alled "simple" is that only one
for e (the linear restoring for e) a ts on it. The general solution is learned in your high
s hool physi s (or kindergarten physi s?)
x(t) = A sin(ωt + φ). (2)
However, for onvenien e we usually use omplex fun tion to represent our solution
x(t) = Ac eiωt (3)
where Ac is the " omplex amplitude" whi h in ludes the phase φ determining the starting
point
Ac = Aeiφ . (4)
There are some benets to use exponential to represent os illation instead of sin or cos.
First, for al ulation reasons, exponential is more easy to operate be ause its derivative
is itself. Se ond, we an introdu e a lot of omplex quantities where their real part and
imaginary part have dierent but lear physi al meanings individually. For example,
if someone wrote down a omplex frequen y, then its imaginary part might represent
de ay rate of the system by the virtue of i ∗ i = −1. This is distin t from the real
part representing the os illating frequen y. In addition, if someone wants to redu e our
omplex representation to something su h as (2), one just needs to take the real part or
imaginary part of the exponential by eiθ = cos θ + i sin θ.

## 2 Damped Harmoni Os illator

Harmoni os illators subje t to some fri tion proportional to its velo ity f = − Q
ω
ẋ are
alled damped harmoni os illators (DHO). The equation of motion is

ẍ + ω 2 x + ẋ = 0
ω
(5)
Q
* e-mail: r07222028ntu.edu.tw

1
where ω is the natural frequen y (the frequen y of SHO) and Q is the "quality fa tor"
des ribing the damping ee t. Both Q and ω are just onstants. Note that it is still
linear, and the general solution an be obtained by letting x = Aeiαt and substituting it
into (5). One would obtain
(−α2 + ω 2 + )x = 0.
iαω
(6)
Q
Things in the parenthesis should be zero ( hara teristi equation), so one an obtain
two solutions √
α = α± = ± ω 2 (1 − ).
iω 1
2
(7)
2Q 4Q
Now there are dierent ases that an be dis ussed
1. Q < 1
2
⇒ α± are purely imaginary

## x = Ae−∣α+ ∣t + Be−∣α− ∣t (8)

only de ays in time. In this situation, the os illator is "overdamped"
2. Q > 1
2
⇒ α± are both omplex

x=A + B c.c.
1
iω 1− t
(9)
−ωt
e 2Q e 4Q2
± ´¹¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¸ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¹ ¶
overall decay oscillation

where " . ." means " omplex onjugate". This solution is os illating while the
amplitude de ays in time simultaneously.
√ Note that the os illating frequen y is
less than the natural frequen y ω ≡ ω 1 − 4Q1 2 < ω . Su h an os illator is alled a

"underdamped" os illator.
3. Q = 1
2
⇒ α± are equal. The general solution is

## x = Ae−ωt + Bte−ωt . (10)

Su h an os illator is alled " riti ally damped". As you an see in the gure
below, the solution de ay most qui kly. Hen e, there may be some appli ations in
engineering.

3 Driven Os illator
If there is a time-dependent driving for e F (t) applied to an os illator, for instan e, the
equation of motion is
F (t)
ẍ + ω 2 x = (11)
m
for a SHO or
F (t)
ẍ + ω 2 x + ẋ =
ω
(12)
Q m
for a DHO. Su h equation is an "inhomogeneous" ODE.

2
3.1 Methods for Solving Inhomogeneous ODE

The solutions for (11) and (12) an be de omposed into two parts
x = xhom + xpar (13)
where xhom is the homogeneous solution in the ase of F (t) = 0 (1) & (5) and xpar is the
parti ular solution in the ase of F (t) ≠ 0 (11) & (12). The homogeneous solution was
already introdu ed in the se tion 1 and 2. How about the parti ular solution? There
are usually two ways to obtain the parti ular solution
1. Guess
2. Green's fun tion
In most situations, we often just guess. However, there is a systemati way to om-
pute the parti ular solution: Green's fun tion method whi h will be introdu ed in the
following subse tions.

## 3.2 Green's fun tion for a Driven SHO

First of all, let's onsider a mu h simpler (11). For some onvenien e, we dene f (t) ≡
F (t)
m
, so (11) be omes
ẍ + ω 2 x = f (t). (14)
A Green's fun tion G(t, t′ ) whi h solves
G̈ + ω 2 G = δ(t − t′ ) (15)
where δ(t − t′ ) is the Dira delta fun tion omes from the idea: The ODE is linear so it
is superimposable. We an imagine the driving term f (t) as a superposition of pulses at
dierent time. Now the physi al meaning of the Green's fun tion is very obvious. The
Green's fun tion G(t, t′ ) des ribes the response of an os illator to a "ki k"
at time t′. The next question is how to nd G(t, t′ ). First, re all that δ(t − t′) is zero
when t ≠ t′ , so G(t, t′ ) solves the homogeneous equation when t ≠ t′ . In this ase,
we are just solving SHO so the Green's fun tion would be something like (2)

⎪A1 sin(ωt + φ1 ), t < t′ .
G(t, t′ ) = ⎨ (16)

⎩A2 sin(ωt + φ2 ), t > t .

However, we need to set A1 = 0 due to ausality (there won't be a response before you
ki k the os illator), so (16) be omes

⎪0 , t < t′ .
G(t, t′ ) = ⎨ (17)

⎪ A sin(ωt + φ2 ), t > t′ .
⎩ 2
Se ond, we have to ompute A2 and φ2 . This an be done by noti ing two points
o urred at t = t′
1. Su h response G(t, t′ ) must be ontinuous at t = t′ , so G(t, t′ ) = 0 when t = t′ . This
provides φ2 = −ωt′ .
2. At t = t′ be ause of G = 0 the equation of motion be omes G̈ = δ , i.e. Ġ in reases
dis ontinuously from 0 to 1 at t = t′ . (You should remember that the dierentiation
of a step fun tion is a Dira delta!)
From (17),

⎪ ⎧

⎪0 ⎪0, t < t′ .
Ġ(t, t ) = ⎨

=⎨ (18)

⎪ A ω cos ω(t − t′ ) ⎪
⎪ t > t′ .
⎩ 2 ⎩
1,

## Hen e, at t = t′ , the time derivative of the response Ġ = A2 ω cos ω(t − t′ ) = A2 ω = 1,

so we obtain A2 = ω1 .

3
Eventually we an write down the Green's fun tion for a driven SHO

⎪0 , t < t′ .
G(t, t′ ) = ⎨ 1 (19)

⎪ sin ω(t − t′ ), t ≥ t′ .
⎩ω
After nding out the Green's fun tion, we an express our parti ular solution in terms
of G(t, t′ ). First note that we an represent our driving term f (t) in terms of the Dira
delta fun tion ∞
f (t) = ∫ δ(t − t′ )f (t′ )dt′ . (20)
−∞
Hen e, we an naively write down the response to the driving term, the parti ular
solution,

xpar (t) = ∫ G(t, t′ )f (t′ )dt′ (21)
−∞

## by the fa t that G(t, t′ ) is the response to δ(t−t′ ). In fa t, you an he k it by substituting

(21) into (14)
d2 ∞ 2
[ + ω 2
]xpar (t) = ∫ dt ′ d
[ + ω 2 ]G(t, t′ )f (t′ )
dt2 −∞ dt2
=∫

dt′ δ(t − t′ )f (t′ )
(22)
−∞
= f (t)

where (15) has been used. Hen e, the parti ular solution for a driven simple harmoni
os illator is t
xpar (t) = ∫ dt′ f (t′ ) sin ω(t − t′ ).
1
(23)
−∞ ω
Note the range of integral is due to that the Green's fun tion is nonzero only when t > t′
(t′ < t). Thus, we only need to integrate to t be ause over t the Green's fun tion is zero.

## 3.3 Green's fun tion for a Driven DHO

Now let's onsider a driven harmoni os illator with a damping for e proportional to
the velo ity. This may be the example in your textbook. First of all, rewrite (12)

ẍ + ω 2 x + ẋ = f (t).
ω
(24)
Q
Our goal is to nd out the parti ular solution. Before doing so, there is a physi al
point to remind you. The parti ular solution des ribes the late-time behavior,
so alled the "steady state", of the system, sin e the homogeneous solution
exponentially de ay to zero at late time. The parti ular solution is in general
given in (21) whi h is a very important result. Therefore, we should rst nd out the
Green's fun tion G(t, t′ ) for a driven damped harmoni os illator. The Green's fun tion
satises
G̈ + ω 2 G + Ġ = δ(t − t′ ).
ω
(25)
Q
Following the same idea developed in se tion 3.2, we an express the Green's fun tion
as the homogeneous solution when t ≠ t′

⎪0 , t < t′ .
G(t, t′ ) = ⎨ −ω(t−t′ )/(2Q)+iω′ (t−t′ ) (26)

⎪ + B c.c. , t > t′ .
⎩Ae
Now we should ompute A and B by imposing two onditions at t = t′
1. G is ontinuous at t = t′ .
2. Ġ jumps from 0 to 1 at t = t′ .

4
Here you might wonder whether the se ond ondition holds or not. It is easy to prove
despite the additional term Q ω
ẋ. The proof is based on the motivation of solving the
ODE at t = t . Be ause there is an innity at this point due to the Dira delta, we should

add a deviation ǫ from t = t′ . That is, we an integrate (25) from t − ǫ to t + ǫ and make
ǫ → 0 at last
t′ +ǫ d2 G

t +ǫ t +ǫ dG ′
t +ǫ ′

## dt + ω 2 ∫ Gdt + ∫ dt = ∫ δ(t − t′ )dt.

ω
∫′ dt 2 Q t −ǫ dt
(27)
t −ǫ t −ǫ
′ ′ t −ǫ

The se ond and third terms are zero as ǫ → 0, as the integrands are nite and the r.h.s.
integrates to 1. Hen e, we obtain

− = 1.
dG dG
∣ ∣ (28)
dt t′ +ǫ dt t′ −ǫ

## G = 0 in the region t < t′ , so Ġ∣t′ −ǫ = 0 is obtained. Hen e, Ġ jumps from 0 to 1 at t = t′ .

Now we an reassuringly use the onditions above.
1. ⇒ A + B = 0
2. ⇒ Ġ = A(− 2Q
ω
+ iω ′ ) + B(− 2Q
ω
− iω ′ ) = 1.

## Solving these equations, we obtain A = − 2ωi ′ and B = i

2ω ′
. Thus the Green's fun tion for
a driven damped harmoni os illator is

⎪0 , t < t′ .
G(t, t′ ) = ⎨ 1 −ω(t−t′ )/(2Q) (29)

⎪ sin ω ′ (t − t′ ) , t ≥ t′ .
⎩ ω′ e
We should noti e the dieren e between (29) and (19) is nothing but an expo-
nential de ay. This is reasonable, sin e the response of a DHO should damp as time
goes by. Finally, we an obtain the parti ular solution by substituting (29) into (21)
t
xpar (t) = ∫ sin ω ′ (t − t′ ).
1 −ω(t−t′ )/(2Q)
dt′ f (t′ ) e (30)
−∞ ω′

3.4 Summary

Learning two appli ations of the Green's fun tion method above, let's summarize how
to solve a driven harmoni os illator
1. Solve the homogeneous equation.
2. Find the parti ular solution: There are two methods
(a) Guess ⇒ Just guess!
(b) Green's fun tion
 Repla e the driving term by a Dira delta fun tion δ(t − t′ ) to obtain the
equation of G(t, t′ ).
 Solve the homogeneous equation on the either side of the Dira delta
impulse.
 Apply the ausality to obtain the form of ausal G(t, t′ ).
 G is ontinuous at t = t′ ⇒ mat h the solutions at t = t′ .
 Ġ jumps from 0 to 1 at t = t′ ⇒ mat h the solutions at t = t′ again.
 Integrate the Green's fun tion G(t, t′ ) with the a tual driving term f (t)
to get the parti ular solution.
3. The ombination of the homogeneous solution and parti ular solution is the general
solution.