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Homework Help: Stern-Gerlach, polarized atom beam.

  1. Nov 23, 2012 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    In a Stern-Gerlach device, an atom beam with angular impulse J, travels through a magnetic field applied normally to the trajectory. The beam is separated in 2j+1 beams in general. Find the relative intensities for these beams if J=1 and if the beam is polarized with jθ=1 in a direction that forms an angle θ with the direction of the magnetic field.


    2. Relevant equations
    The operator
    [tex]J \cdot n_{\theta}=J_{\theta}=J_x\sin\theta \cos\phi+J_y \sin\theta\sin\phi+J_z\cos\phi[/tex]


    3. The attempt at a solution
    I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. I think I should find the eigenvalues for the given operator, and then determine the probability of measuring each eigenvalue, projecting over each possible eigenstate. I need some guidance with this.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2012 #2

    TSny

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    I think you have the right idea. Since you are dealing with spin 1 particles (##j = 1##), the possible eigenvalues for a measurement of the component of spin along any chosen direction in space are [itex]m\hbar[/itex] where ##m## is an integer.

    What are the possible values of ##m##?

    The corresponding eigenstates may be written ##|j,m>## where ##j = 1## and ##m## can be any of the possible values of ##m##.

    If you use primes to denote that you are considering spin components along the specific direction nθ given in the problem, what is the value of ##m'## for the particles before they enter the B field? That is, what is the value of ##m'## for the initial state ##|j,m'>## ?
     
  4. Nov 24, 2012 #3
    The possible values for m are ##m=-1,0,1##.

    I think that the value of ##m′## should be the eigenvalue for the projection of the eigenstates in the nθ direction. So I think I should apply the given operator over the ##|j,m>##, and those eigenvalues would give the ##m′##, am I right?

    Thank you very much TSny.
     
  5. Nov 24, 2012 #4

    TSny

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    If I'm understanding the setup, the initial state of the particles is ##j = 1## and ##m' = 1## along nθ: ##|j, m'=1>##

    If you let ##m## without a prime denote possible eigenstates having definite components of spin along the magnetic field direction, then the three output beams will correspond to the three states ##|j, m>## where ##m## = 1, 0, and -1. You can think of these three states as basis states for expressing any spin state. In particular, it should be possible to expand the input state ##|j, m'=1>## ("along nθ") as a superposition of the states ##|j, m>## ("along B").

    The easiest way to find the coefficients of the expansion is to consult a standard QM text that discusses rotations of quantum states. The ##m'## states are related to the ##m## states by a rotation.
     
  6. Nov 24, 2012 #5
    You get the ##m´=1## from the given value of jθ=1?

    I think I get the setup, I saw it in Cohen, where this kind of configuration is discussed. There are two Stern Garlech apparatus, one giving the atoms in a given state, and the second one measuring the intensity I think. But I don't know how to work it out.

    I'm sorry to insist with this, I'm having some trouble with QM.
     
  7. Nov 24, 2012 #6

    TSny

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    I’m not sure of the meaning of the notation jθ = 1. I assume that this means that the initial state is ##|j = 1, m' = 1> \equiv |1, 1'>##. If not, then I don’t understand the setup.

    You can expand ##|1, 1'>## in terms of the three eigenstates of spin along the B-field direction ##|j = 1, m> \equiv |1,m>## for m = 1, 0, -1. Thus, there exists constants ##C_1, C_2, C_3## such that

    ##|1, 1'>\; = \;C_1|1, 1> +\; C_2|1, 0> +\;C_3|1, -1> ##

    You can find tables containing the values of the coefficients. For example you can find these constants along with an outline of their derivation on the last 3 pages of

    http://www.hep.phy.cam.ac.uk/~thomson/lectures/partIIIparticles/Handout4_2009.pdf [itex]\;[/itex] [Don't panic! Skip quickly to the last three pages. Note that ##|\psi>## is used for what we have called ##|1, 1'>\;##. See in particular the last equation on page 146.]

    From the values of the ##C## constants you can calculate the relative intensities of the three beams exiting the apparatus.
     
  8. Nov 24, 2012 #7
    Thanks, I think I got it.
     
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