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

How does frequency depend on the potential energy?

  1. Oct 14, 2005 #1
    Let's say you have a particle confined to one dimension in a potential field U(x). At t=0, the particles initial kinetic energy is K_o. U(x) is such that the particle is trapped between two points x=a and x=b; this means U(a) = U(b) = K_o, and the slopes of U(x) at a and b are such that the particle is kept between a and b. How would you find the frequency of this system?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 14, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    From -dU/dx, you know the force on the particle, F(x). With it's mass, you can find the acceleration a(x). From a(x) and the total distance, x = |b-a|, you can find the time taken, since you know v(a) = v(b) = 0. Twice this time is the inverse of the frequency.
  4. Oct 21, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    By doing a Taylor expansion for U(x), you may also be able to approximate your potential energy function by "a simple harmonic oscillator with spring constant k".
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook