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

Electron oscillation between states

  1. Mar 20, 2012 #1
    Hi, it's been awhile since taking a quantum mechanics course, but I thought I read somewhere that during an electron decay into a lower stationary state, it can be shown to literally oscillate between the states momentarily, hence providing a clear source of acceleration in a kind of oscillator motion for the creation of the emitted radiation. Did I dream this? It seems if I didn't, it should be more prevalent in explanations of decay and photon emission.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 20, 2012 #2

    Bill_K

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Don't believe everything you read. You probably did read that somewhere, but it's an old pre-quantum-mechanical way of attempting to explain discontinuous quantum transitions in terms of continuous classical processes. The modern (since ~ 70 years) viewpoint is that while the probability of finding the electron in the final state does increase continuously, the transition itself is instantaneous.
     
  4. Mar 20, 2012 #3

    strangerep

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Actually, I remember my 3rd yr QM lecturer deriving something similar to what the OP said. I think it was some kind of time-dependent perturbation approach to an atom interacting with a radiation field. He was able to show that the (time dependent) position distribution for the electron did indeed oscillate on its way down from a higher energy state to a lower one, and that the oscillation frequency corresponded to the emitted photon (i.e., energy difference between the states).

    Can't find a reference though. :-(
     
  5. Mar 20, 2012 #4
    Isn't that just a standard problem in non-relativistic QM? Pretty much every text I've seen talks about this during its discussion of time-dependent perturbation theory (a Google search brought up http://www.ecse.rpi.edu/~schubert/Course-ECSE-6968%20Quantum%20mechanics/Ch11%20Time-dependent%20perturb.pdf [Broken], which discusses it in section 11.3).

    That's pretty much the best you can do in non-relativistic QM, since there's no way in that framework to talk about the emission/absorption of a photon. QFT can do better, since both the electron and the EM field are described by quantum variables, and particle number can change.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Mar 21, 2012 #5
  7. Mar 21, 2012 #6
    Thanks strangerep and Chopin :)
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Electron oscillation between states
Loading...