# Angular momentum eigenstates

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi,

Both Ballentine in "Quantum Mechanics - a modern development" pages 160-162 and Sakurai in "Modern Quantum Mechanics" pages 193-196 use essentialy the same argument to show the existence of a set of eigenvectors of J² and J_z with integer spaced values of the J_z eigenvalues for fixed J² eigenvalue.

I get everything up to the result -b_max <= a <= b_max (following Sakurai's notation). But then (in Ballentine) it is claimed that the difference between b_max and -b_max must be an integer. In Sakurai the equivalent (actually stronger) claim is "Clearly, we must be able to reach |a, b_max> by applying J_+ succesively to |a, b_min>".

It is not obvious to me that this should be so. Can anyone help me see this?

Thanks,

A_B

Related Quantum Physics News on Phys.org
if you have a number and you reduce it by 1 everytime and you have to reach the negative of number in this way.it is possible only when that number is an integer or half of an integer.it simply follows from the relation that
N-(-N) is an integer.

Yes, but there is no obvious reason why repeated application of J_+ on |a, b_min> should eventually reach |a, b_max>. For example, if b_max = 3.2$\hbar$ say, then a = 13.44$\hbar$². The states |13.44$\hbar$², 3.2$\hbar$> and |13.44$\hbar$², -3.2$\hbar$> are eigenstates by hypothesis, and they give rise to two separate chains of eigenstates, for example

0 = J_+ |13.44$\hbar$², 2.8$\hbar$> = (J_+)² |13.44$\hbar$², 1.8$\hbar$> = ... = (J_+)^7 |13.44$\hbar$², -3.2$\hbar$>

and

0 = J_- |13.44$\hbar$², -0.8$\hbar$> = (J_-)² |13.44$\hbar$², 0.2$\hbar$> = ... = (J_-)^5 |13.44$\hbar$², 3.2$\hbar$>

I don't see how this situation would lead to a contradiction of anything proved before.

you are not understanding here.you should be able to go to bmax from bmin by applying the ladder operator.bmax and bmin are simply j and -j.so j should be half integer or full integer.it must go +1 in every step by using ladder operator.

I can't find proof that indeed |a, b_max> = (J_+)^n |a, -b_max> for some n. That is my problem

stevendaryl
Staff Emeritus
I can't find proof that indeed |a, b_max> = (J_+)^n |a, -b_max> for some n. That is my problem
If you started, for example, with a state with $j=1, m=\frac{1}{3}$ and applied the $J_{+}$ operator, you would get to the state $j=1, m=\frac{4}{3}$. But that's impossible, since $m$ must be less than or equal to $j$. So there has to be a maximal value for $m$ such that it is impossible to get a new state by applying $J_{+}$ to $|j,m\rangle$.

So we reason as follows:

If $|j,m\rangle$ is any state, then either $J_+ |j,m\rangle = 0$ or $J_+ |j,m\rangle \propto |j,m+1\rangle$. The latter is impossible if $m$ is maximal. So when $m$ is maximal, it must be that $J_+ |j,m\rangle = 0$. This is only possible if $m=j$.

So we conclude: For any state $|j,m\rangle$, there is an $n \geq 0$ such that $m+n = j$.