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Schrodinger Equation, Potential

  1. Sep 12, 2012 #1
    Schrodinger Equation, "Potential"

    This is a very simple question, but I am confused.

    I have seen Potential and Potential Energy interchanged.. yet still referred to as potential. Is the "potential" function in the schrodinger equation really a potential function or potential energy? (units of energy or volts)

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 12, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: Schrodinger Equation, "Potential"

    The V(x) in Schrödinger's equation has units of energy, and should be properly called the "potential energy function." But people and books tend to be sloppy and call it just the "potential".

    You can see most clearly that the units are energy by looking at the time-independent S.E.:

    $$-\frac{\hbar^2}{2m} \nabla^2 \psi(x,y,z) + V(x,y,z) \psi(x,y,z) = E \psi(x,y,z)$$

    In order to make the units consistent, V and E must have the same units, and E is energy.
  4. Sep 12, 2012 #3
    Re: Schrodinger Equation, "Potential"

    wow.... thank you.

    This is just what I thought, and I still heard it as potential.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2012
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