Scattering states and the step potential | Summary and Q&A

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July 5, 2017
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Scattering states and the step potential

TL;DR

Scattering states are energy eigenstates that cannot be normalized but provide valuable intuition in constructing wave packets. The step potential in quantum mechanics allows for two possibilities depending on the energy level.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are scattering states in quantum mechanics?

Scattering states are energy eigenstates that cannot be normalized, but they provide valuable intuition in constructing wave packets. They represent the process of scattering.

Q: How do scattering states differ from bound states?

Scattering states cannot be normalized and do not represent particles, while bound states are normalizable and can represent particles. Scattering states are non-decaying energy eigenstates.

Q: What is the step potential in quantum mechanics?

The step potential is a sudden change in potential energy from 0 to a certain value at a specific position. It creates qualitatively two possibilities depending on the energy level.

Q: How is the solution for the energy eigenstate derived in the step potential?

The solution involves different waves with different kinetic energy and momentum. The wave function must be continuous at the boundary, and the coefficients A, B, and C can be determined by solving two equations and two unknowns.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Scattering states are energy eigenstates that cannot be normalized, but their intuition is valuable in constructing wave packets.

  • The step potential in quantum mechanics provides two possibilities: if the energy is less than the potential, the solution is a non-decaying function; if the energy is greater, the solution is a wave moving to the right.

  • The solution for the energy eigenstate involves different waves with different kinetic energies and momentum, and the wave function must be continuous at the boundary.

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