Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I Density matrix

  1. Mar 18, 2017 #1

    I am studying Spin 1/2 system, the case of 2 electrons in a magnetic field, since we have 2 electrons, we expect that the matrix will be of the size 4x4, which is what I have got.

    As I know that I could use the density matrix to calculate the expectation values of any physical quantity such us <Sz> , <Sx> and <Sy> by taking the trace of the product of the density matrix with the one we want to find out.

    but the point that disappointed me is that Sz operator for example is 2x2 matrix , and the density matrix is 4x4 ! I cant take a product of two matrices !

    What is the best way to proceed ?

    I am really struggling with this, I hope someone would help ()

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 18, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you want to calculate the expectation value of e.g. ##\sigma_z## for e.g. the first spin, you have to form the tensor product ##\sigma_z \otimes \sigma_0##, where ##\sigma_0## is the 2x2 unit matrix and calculate the expectation value using the density matrix and this operator.
  4. Mar 19, 2017 #3
    Thank You Doctor.
    Appreciate your helpful reply ()
  5. Mar 21, 2017 #4
    I am wondering if there is a way to re write puali matrices in 4x4 matrix size with choosing 4 basis instead of using product ?
  6. Mar 21, 2017 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    $$ \sigma_z \otimes \sigma_0=\begin{pmatrix} \sigma_z & 0 \\ 0 & \sigma_z\end{pmatrix}$$. I am too lazy to write this explicitly as a 4x4 matrix.
  7. Mar 21, 2017 #6
    The general way to write a tensor product of ##d \times d## matrices as a ## d^2 \times d^2 ## matrix uses the Kronecker product.

    But if you are only interested in the observables for each spin, it might be easier to just calculate the ##2 \times 2## reduced density matrices ## \rho_A = \text{Tr}_B ( \rho_{AB}) ## and ## \rho_B = \text{Tr}_A ( \rho_{AB}) ## where the trace is the partial trace.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted