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Homework Help: What is a resonance?

  1. Aug 1, 2011 #1
    I'm finding that I don't really understand what a resonance, in the quantum mechanical use of the term, is. From what I get out of my texts it's related to an infinite square well potential. Is it when a particle is trapped but not bound? (I'm not even sure that last sentence makes sense in English or Physics)... So, for the sake of reading comprehension: what is a resonance!?!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2011 #2


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    'Trapped but not bound' is actually pretty close. A resonance is basically a temporary 'bound' state. It has a width in energy because it's not bound forever. It can decay. A broad resonance decays quickly, a sharp resonance more slowly. It's the delta(E)*delta(T)>Planck's constant thing. It's a finite well barrier that the particles can get stuck in for a while but eventually leak out.
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  4. Aug 2, 2011 #3
    Thanks! Does this explain something like an unstable neutron capture reaction? Where a nucleus captures a neutron, becomes unstable, and then decays to a stable state.
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