Electron oscillation between states

In summary, the conversation discusses the concept of electron decay and photon emission in quantum mechanics. The modern viewpoint is that while the probability of finding the electron in the final state increases continuously, the transition itself is instantaneous. This is in contrast to the old pre-quantum-mechanical way of explaining the process in terms of continuous classical processes. The conversation also mentions a time-dependent perturbation approach used in non-relativistic QM to show that the position distribution of the electron oscillates during the transition, matching the energy difference between the states. QFT is also mentioned as a framework that can better describe the emission and absorption of photons.
  • #1
jjurbanus
3
0
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.
 
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  • #2
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.
 
  • #3
Bill_K said:
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.

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. :-(
 
  • #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 , 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.
 
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  • #5
Hi, it looks like I didn't dream it!

http://www.attoworld.de/Home/attoworld/ElectronsAndLight/EmissionOfPhotons/index.html
 
  • #6
Thanks strangerep and Chopin :)
 

Related to Electron oscillation between states

1. What is electron oscillation between states?

Electron oscillation between states refers to the phenomenon where an electron moves back and forth between different energy levels or orbitals within an atom or molecule.

2. What causes electron oscillation between states?

Electron oscillation between states is caused by the absorption or emission of photons of specific energies, which can excite or de-excite the electron and cause it to move to a different energy level.

3. What is the significance of electron oscillation between states?

Electron oscillation between states plays a critical role in many chemical and physical processes, including the emission of light, the formation of chemical bonds, and the functioning of electronic devices.

4. How is electron oscillation between states measured?

Electron oscillation between states can be measured using various techniques, such as spectroscopy, which involves analyzing the absorption and emission of light by the electrons, or through the use of quantum mechanical models and calculations.

5. Can electron oscillation between states be controlled?

Yes, electron oscillation between states can be controlled to some extent by changing the energy levels or the environment of the electrons, such as through the application of electric or magnetic fields. This is essential in the development of new technologies and materials.

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