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Movement of a wave packet of a free particle

  1. Jan 27, 2015 #1
    In my course there's a chapter with the mathematical explanation to find the real expression and localisation of a free particle with the superposited wave function. The same is used to explain the movemement of a wave packet (which is a free particle). I've worked out almost all the math behind every step, but the last.

    ## \psi (x,t) = e^{ik_{0}x-iw(k_{0})t} \Big( \frac{\pi}{\alpha+i\beta t} \Big)^{\frac{1}{2}} e^{-\big[\frac{(x-v_g t)^2}{4(\alpha +i\beta t)}\big]}##

    Next we take the square of the absolute of the wave function. I know the first exponent would equal to 1 as a square, as it is phasefactor. And if I calculate the rest as a square I have.

    ## |\psi (x,t)|^2 = \frac{\pi}{\alpha+i\beta t} e^{-\big[\frac{(x-v_g t)^2}{2(\alpha +i\beta t)}\big]}##

    My course, however, has a different result, and I haven't got a clue what my professor did to get that result:

    ## |\psi (x,t)|^2 = \Big( \frac{\pi^2}{\alpha^2+\beta^2 t^2} \Big)^{\frac{1}{2}} e^{-\alpha \big[\frac{(x-v_g t)^2}{2(\alpha^2 +\beta^2 t^2)}\big]}##

    How does one get ##\alpha^2 +\beta^2 t^2## ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2015 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    When you take the complex conjugate of ##\psi## (in order to find ##|\psi|^2 = \psi^*\psi##), you have to change i to -i everywhere.
  4. Jan 27, 2015 #3
    Thank you,

    so, if I understand you correctly I have to do

    ## \big( \frac{\pi}{\alpha + i\beta t} \cdot \frac{\pi}{alpha - i\beta t}\big)^{\frac{1}{2}} = \big( \frac{\pi^2}{\alpha^2 - i^2\beta^2 t^2} \big)^{\frac{1}{2}} = \big( \frac{\pi^2}{\alpha^2 + \beta^2 t^2} \big)^{\frac{1}{2}}##

    But how does that help with the power of the exponent?
  5. Jan 27, 2015 #4
    Ok, I worked it out for the exponent as follows

    ## e^{-[\frac{(x-v_g t)^2}{4(\alpha + i\beta t)}]} \cdot e^{-[\frac{(x-v_g t)^2}{4(\alpha - i\beta t)}]}##
    By then adding the powers of the exponents and working out the numenators of the fractions I get the desired result.

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