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Is this a correct understanding?

  1. Oct 30, 2009 #1
    My understanding of the wavefunction is as follows. Say we have a photon. The wavefunction of the photon is simply a mathematical representation of the photon. If you were to take the information provided by the wavefunction and, say, graph it on a coordinate plane or something similar, it would have a wavelike shape.

    Is this correct? It's all I can gather from what I've read thus far.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 31, 2009 #2

    Wave funtion ψ is the function of the position x ,say ψ=ψ(x)and the complex number, say ψ(x)=Reψ(x)+i Imψ(x).

    ψ(x) is sometimes periodical like a wave, but not always so.

    Physical meaning of ψ is that ψ*ψ=Reψ(x)^2 + Imψ(x)^2 gives possibility to find a particle at position x.
    Larger ψ*ψ is, more likely the particle be there.
    More exactly, ψ*ψdx ={Reψ(x)^2 + Imψ(x)^2}dx gives possibility to find a particle at position between x and x+dx.
    If there is one particle in the system, ∫ψ*ψdx = 1.

    I hope there is something helpful to you. Regards.
  4. Oct 31, 2009 #3


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    It might be worth pointing out that the photon is a bad example since you can't really write down a "normal" wavefunction for it for various reasons (one reason being that is has no mass).
    If you want understand the concept of a wavefunction you are better off considering e.g. an electron instead. To make it even easier you should also trap the electron in a potential well; for a free electron you need to consider a wave package (as opposed to just a wave) which is a somewhat more complicated affair.
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