Quantum Principles and Particles

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ISBN 9781439835258
Cat# K11590



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ISBN 9781439835265
Cat# KE11606



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  • Emphasizes basic quantum principles deduced from fundamental experiments
  • Presents quantum theory in a novel way by using process diagrams as a visual tool
  • Guides readers from elementary quantum mechanics to aspects of particle physics
  • Incorporates extensive problem sets to reinforce key principles
  • Uses simplified bra-ket notation throughout
  • Includes extensive illustrations
  • Contains helpful appendices on notation, lattice models, weak flavor mixing, and numerical simulations

Solutions manual is available upon qualifying course adoption.



A Novel Pedagogical Approach to Quantum Mechanics

"A physical understanding is a completely unmathematical, imprecise, and inexact thing, but absolutely necessary for a physicist."
—R. Feynman

The core of modern physics, quantum theory is counter-intuitive and challenging for those new to the field. Quantum Principles and Particles presents the fundamental quantum principles in a particularly visual manner and applies them to aspects of particle interactions. Inspired by the author’s work with Nobel laureate Julian Schwinger, it introduces the primary principles of the microscopic world through an analysis of the simplest possible quantum mechanical system—spin 1/2.

A Visual Approach to Quantum Mechanics

This two-semester introductory undergraduate textbook balances simplification and rigor to provide an accessible, solid foundation in quantum mechanics. Taking a unique pedagogical approach, the author uses hypothetical quantum devices—process diagrams—to orient and guide the reader. These process diagrams help readers visualize states and operators, and illustrate ways to compute amplitudes for quantum mechanical processes.

From Small Steps in Quantum Mechanics to a Leap into Particle Physics

The first part of the book presents the essential principles in the development of quantum mechanics, starting with spin state analysis and wave mechanics. Delving into quantum particles, the second part develops a consistent picture of particle descriptions and interactions in atomic, nuclear, and particle contexts. The text emphasizes applications and makes the connection to the Standard Model of particle physics. In each chapter, carefully designed problem sets reinforce key principles and stimulate original thought. Extensively illustrated, this classroom-tested text provides a clear and comprehensive introduction to quantum mechanics.

Table of Contents


Perspective and Principles
Prelude to Quantum Mechanics
Stern–Gerlach Experiment
Idealized Stern–Gerlach Results
Classical Model Attempts
Wave Functions for Two Physical-Outcome Case
Process Diagrams, Operators, and Completeness
Further Properties of Operators/Modulation
Operator Reformulation
Operator Rotation
Bra–Ket Notation/Basis States
Transition Amplitudes
Three-Magnet Setup Example—Coherence
Hermitian Conjugation
Unitary Operators
A Very Special Operator
Matrix Representations
Matrix Wave Function Recovery
Expectation Values
Wrap Up

Free Particles in One Dimension
Photoelectric Effect
Compton Effect
Uncertainty Relation for Photons
Stability of Ground States
Bohr Model
Fourier Transform and Uncertainty Relations
Schrödinger Equation
Schrödinger Equation Example
Dirac Delta Functions
Wave Functions and Probability
Probability Current
Time Separable Solutions
Completeness for Particle States
Particle Operator Properties
Operator Rules
Time Evolution and Expectation Values

Some One-Dimensional Solutions to the Schrödinger Equation
The Infinite Square Well: Differential Solution
The Infinite Square Well: Operator Solution
The Finite Potential Barrier Step Potential
The Harmonic Oscillator
The Attractive Kronig–Penny Model
Bound State and Scattering Solutions

Hilbert Space and Unitary Transformations
Introduction and Notation
Inner and Outer Operator Products
Operator–Matrix Relationship
Hermitian Operators and Eigenkets
Gram–Schmidt Orthogonalization Process
Compatible Operators
Uncertainty Relations and Incompatible Operators
Simultaneously Measureable Operators
Unitary Transformations and Change of Basis
Coordinate Displacements and Unitary Transformations
Schrödinger and Heisenburg Pictures of Time Evolution
Free Gaussian Wave Packet in the Heisenberg Picture
Potentials and the Ehrenfest Theorem

Three Static Approximation Methods
Time-Independent Perturbation Theory
Examples of Time-Independent Perturbation Theory
Aspects of Degenerate Perturbation Theory
WKB Semiclassical Approximation
Use of the WKB Approximation in Barrier Penetration
Use of the WKB Approximation in Bound States
Variational Methods

Generalization to Three Dimensions
Cartesian Basis States and Wave Functions in Three Dimensions
Position/Momentum Eigenket Generalization
Example: Three-Dimensional Infinite Square Well
Spherical Basis States
Orbital Angular Momentum Operator
Effect of Angular Momentum on Basis States
Energy Eigenvalue Equation and Angular Momentum
Complete Set of Observables for the Radial Schrödinger Equation
Specification of Angular Momentum Eigenstates
Angular Momentum Eigenvectors and Spherical Harmonics
Completeness and Other Properties of Spherical Harmonics
Radial Eigenfunctions


The Three-Dimensional Radial Equation
Recap of the Situation
The Free Particle
The Infinite Spherical Well Potential
The “Deuteron”
The Coulomb Potential: Initial Considerations
The Coulomb Potential: 2-D Harmonic Oscillator Comparison
The Confined Coulombic Model

Addition of Angular Momenta
General Angular-Momentum Eigenstate Properties
Combining Angular Momenta for Two Systems
Explicit Example of Adding Two Spin 1/2 Systems
Explicit Example of Adding Orbital Angular Momentum and Spin 1/2
Hydrogen Atom and the Choice of Basis States
Hydrogen Atom and Perturbative Energy Shifts

Spin and Statistics
The Connection between Spin and Statistics
Building Wave Functions with Identical Particles
Particle Occupation Basis
More on Fermi–Dirac Statistics
Interaction Operator and Feynman Diagrams
Implications of Detailed Balance
Cubical Enclosures and Particle States
Maxwell–Boltzmann Statistics
Bose–Einstein Statistics
Fermi–Dirac Statistics
The Hartree–Fock Equations

Quantum Particle Scattering
The One-Dimensional Integral Schrödinger Equation
Reflection and Transmission Amplitudes
One-Dimensional Delta-Function Scattering
Step-Function Potential Scattering
The Born Series
The Three-Dimensional Integral Schrödinger Equation
The Helmholtz Equation and Plane Waves
Cross Sections and the Scattering Amplitude
Scattering Phase Shifts
Finite-Range Potential Scattering
The Three-Dimensional Born Series
Identical Particle Scattering
Proton–Proton Scattering

Connecting to the Standard Model
Discrete Symmetries
Time Reversal
Charge Conjugation
Particle Primer
Particle Interactions
Quantum Electrodynamics
Quantum Chromodynamics
Weak Interactions

Beyond the Standard Model
Helpful Introductory Books on Particle and String Physics
More Advanced Books on Particle and String Physics

Appendix: Notation Comments and Comparisons
Appendix: Lattice Models
Appendix: 2-D Harmonic Oscillator Wave Function Normalization
Appendix: Allowed Standard Model Interactions
Appendix: Weak Flavor Mixing
Appendix: The Ising Model and More


Author Bio(s)

Editorial Reviews

"The fresh student will find a practical guide through quantum mechanics and plenty of problems at the end of each chapter to deepen his or her knowledge with pencil and paper. …For the reader already familiar with quantum mechanics, the textbook offers a fresh collection of model calculations and problems that can be very well used for both personal fun or teaching purposes."
—Adriana Palffy, Contemporary Physics, 2013

"This text contains many innovative features, tricks, and other material not usually found in an undergraduate introduction to quantum mechanics. From beginning the text with simple two state systems to ending it with an introduction to the standard model of particle physics, clearly Wilcox has rethought considerably how an introduction to the field can best be conveyed to undergraduates, and his book is a very welcome addition."
—Professor Donald N. Petcher, Covenant College