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Essential Quantum Mechanics$
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Gary Bowman

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228928.001.0001

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(p.157) 12 Wavefunctions
Essential Quantum Mechanics

Gary E. Bowman

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on a basic but systematic treatment of wavefunctions. By comparison with a spin 1/2 system, the concept of a wavefunction as a collection of coefficients is developed, followed by discussions of eigenstates, operators, and representations in the context of wavefunctions. Transformation from position to momentum representation is effected by a Fourier transform. This is developed next, and illustrated for a Gaussian. The discussion of phases and time evolution in earlier chapters is now applied to wavefunctions, and the time evolution of a free particle discussed. The concept of a wavepacket and its suitability for representing particles follows. A topic of some subtlety — and one which is discussed in detail — is the use of bra-ket (Dirac) notation for wavefunctions. The chapter closes with a short epilogue.

Keywords:   position representation, momentum representation, Gaussian, time evolution, free particle, wavepacket, bra-ket notation, Dirac notation

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