Quantum mechanics is a fundamental

Chapter 8, p. 215

The time evolution of a quantum state is described by the

_{n}'' are the Hermite polynomials
:$H\_n(x)=(-1)^n\; e^\backslash frac\backslash left(e^\backslash right),$
and the corresponding energy levels are
:$E\_n\; =\; \backslash hbar\; \backslash omega\; \backslash left(n\; +\; \backslash right).$
This is another example illustrating the discretization of energy for bound states.

^{−35} m, and so lengths shorter than the Planck length are not physically meaningful in LQG.

photon
A photon () is an elementary particle that is a quantum of the electromagnetic field, including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. Photons are massless, so they ...

), with a discrete amount of energy that depends on its frequency. In his paper "On the Quantum Theory of Radiation," Einstein expanded on the interaction between energy and matter to explain the absorption and emission of energy by atoms. Although overshadowed at the time by his general theory of relativity, this paper articulated the mechanism underlying the stimulated emission of radiation, which became the basis of the laser.
This phase is known as the old quantum theory. Never complete or self-consistent, the old quantum theory was rather a set of electron
The electron ( or ) is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family,
and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have n ...

s in computer

Draft of 4th edition.

*

Online copy

* * Gunther Ludwig, 1968. ''Wave Mechanics''. London: Pergamon Press. *

online

* * Scerri, Eric R., 2006. ''The

This Quantum World

Introduction to Quantum Theory at Quantiki.

Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple

three video lectures by Hans Bethe ; Course material

Quantum Cook Book

an

PHYS 201: Fundamentals of Physics II

by Ramamurti Shankar, Yale OpenCourseware

The Modern Revolution in Physics

– an online textbook. * MIT OpenCourseWare

Chemistry

an

Physics

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8.04

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5½ Examples in Quantum Mechanics

Imperial College Quantum Mechanics Course.

;Philosophy * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Quantum Mechanics

theory
A theory is a rational type of abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as observational study or research. Theories may ...

in physics
Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its fundamental constituents, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical science is that department of knowledge which ...

that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atom
Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons.
Every solid, liquid, g ...

s and subatomic particle
In physical sciences, a subatomic particle is a particle that composes an atom. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, a subatomic particle can be either a composite particle, which is composed of other particles (for example, a p ...

s. It is the foundation of all quantum physics including quantum chemistry
Quantum chemistry, also called molecular quantum mechanics, is a branch of physical chemistry focused on the application of quantum mechanics to chemical systems, particularly towards the quantum-mechanical calculation of electronic contribution ...

, quantum field theory, quantum technology, and quantum information science.
Classical physics, the collection of theories that existed before the advent of quantum mechanics, describes many aspects of nature at an ordinary ( macroscopic) scale, but is not sufficient for describing them at small (atomic and subatomic) scales. Most theories in classical physics can be derived from quantum mechanics as an approximation valid at large (macroscopic) scale.
Quantum mechanics differs from classical physics in that energy
In physics, energy (from Ancient Greek: ἐνέργεια, ''enérgeia'', “activity”) is the quantitative property that is transferred to a body or to a physical system, recognizable in the performance of work and in the form of he ...

, momentum, angular momentum
In physics, angular momentum (rarely, moment of momentum or rotational momentum) is the rotational analog of linear momentum. It is an important physical quantity because it is a conserved quantity—the total angular momentum of a closed sy ...

, and other quantities of a bound system are restricted to discrete values ( quantization); objects have characteristics of both particle
In the physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small localized object which can be described by several physical or chemical properties, such as volume, density, or mass.
They vary greatly in size or quantity, from ...

s and wave
In physics, mathematics, and related fields, a wave is a propagating dynamic disturbance (change from equilibrium) of one or more quantities. Waves can be periodic, in which case those quantities oscillate repeatedly about an equilibrium (re ...

s ( wave–particle duality); and there are limits to how accurately the value of a physical quantity can be predicted prior to its measurement, given a complete set of initial conditions (the uncertainty principle
In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle (also known as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the accuracy with which the values for certain pairs of physic ...

).
Quantum mechanics arose gradually from theories to explain observations which could not be reconciled with classical physics, such as Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (, ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.
Planck made many substantial contributions to theoretica ...

's solution in 1900 to the black-body radiation
Black-body radiation is the thermal electromagnetic radiation within, or surrounding, a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment, emitted by a black body (an idealized opaque, non-reflective body). It has a specific, continuous sp ...

problem, and the correspondence between energy and frequency in Albert Einstein's 1905 paper which explained the photoelectric effect. These early attempts to understand microscopic phenomena, now known as the " old quantum theory", led to the full development of quantum mechanics in the mid-1920s by Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr (; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 ...

, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Paul Dirac and others. The modern theory is formulated in various specially developed mathematical formalisms. In one of them, a mathematical entity called the wave function provides information, in the form of probability amplitudes, about what measurements of a particle's energy, momentum, and other physical properties may yield.
Overview and fundamental concepts

Quantum mechanics allows the calculation of properties and behaviour of physical systems. It is typically applied to microscopic systems: molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles. It has been demonstrated to hold for complex molecules with thousands of atoms, but its application to human beings raises philosophical problems, such as Wigner's friend, and its application to the universe as a whole remains speculative. Predictions of quantum mechanics have been verified experimentally to an extremely high degree of accuracy. A fundamental feature of the theory is that it usually cannot predict with certainty what will happen, but only give probabilities. Mathematically, a probability is found by taking the square of the absolute value of acomplex number
In mathematics, a complex number is an element of a number system that extends the real numbers with a specific element denoted , called the imaginary unit and satisfying the equation i^= -1; every complex number can be expressed in the fo ...

, known as a probability amplitude. This is known as the Born rule, named after physicist Max Born. For example, a quantum particle like an electron
The electron ( or ) is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family,
and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have n ...

can be described by a wave function, which associates to each point in space a probability amplitude. Applying the Born rule to these amplitudes gives a probability density function
In probability theory, a probability density function (PDF), or density of a continuous random variable, is a function whose value at any given sample (or point) in the sample space (the set of possible values taken by the random variable) ...

for the position that the electron will be found to have when an experiment is performed to measure it. This is the best the theory can do; it cannot say for certain where the electron will be found. The Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation is a linear partial differential equation that governs the wave function of a quantum-mechanical system. It is a key result in quantum mechanics, and its discovery was a significant landmark in the development of th ...

relates the collection of probability amplitudes that pertain to one moment of time to the collection of probability amplitudes that pertain to another.
One consequence of the mathematical rules of quantum mechanics is a tradeoff in predictability between different measurable quantities. The most famous form of this uncertainty principle
In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle (also known as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the accuracy with which the values for certain pairs of physic ...

says that no matter how a quantum particle is prepared or how carefully experiments upon it are arranged, it is impossible to have a precise prediction for a measurement of its position and also at the same time for a measurement of its momentum.
Another consequence of the mathematical rules of quantum mechanics is the phenomenon of quantum interference, which is often illustrated with the double-slit experiment. In the basic version of this experiment, a coherent light source, such as a laser beam, illuminates a plate pierced by two parallel slits, and the light passing through the slits is observed on a screen behind the plate. The wave nature of light causes the light waves passing through the two slits to interfere, producing bright and dark bands on the screen – a result that would not be expected if light consisted of classical particles. However, the light is always found to be absorbed at the screen at discrete points, as individual particles rather than waves; the interference pattern appears via the varying density of these particle hits on the screen. Furthermore, versions of the experiment that include detectors at the slits find that each detected photon
A photon () is an elementary particle that is a quantum of the electromagnetic field, including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. Photons are massless, so they ...

passes through one slit (as would a classical particle), and not through both slits (as would a wave). However, such experiments demonstrate that particles do not form the interference pattern if one detects which slit they pass through. Other atomic-scale entities, such as electrons
The electron ( or ) is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family,
and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have no kn ...

, are found to exhibit the same behavior when fired towards a double slit. This behavior is known as wave–particle duality.
Another counter-intuitive phenomenon predicted by quantum mechanics is quantum tunnelling: a particle that goes up against a potential barrier can cross it, even if its kinetic energy is smaller than the maximum of the potential. In classical mechanics this particle would be trapped. Quantum tunnelling has several important consequences, enabling radioactive decay
Radioactive decay (also known as nuclear decay, radioactivity, radioactive disintegration, or nuclear disintegration) is the process by which an unstable atomic nucleus loses energy by radiation. A material containing unstable nuclei is consid ...

, nuclear fusion in stars, and applications such as scanning tunnelling microscopy and the tunnel diode.
When quantum systems interact, the result can be the creation of quantum entanglement
Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the group cannot be described independently of the state of ...

: their properties become so intertwined that a description of the whole solely in terms of the individual parts is no longer possible. Erwin Schrödinger called entanglement "...''the'' characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought". Quantum entanglement enables the counter-intuitive properties of quantum pseudo-telepathy, and can be a valuable resource in communication protocols, such as quantum key distribution and superdense coding. Contrary to popular misconception, entanglement does not allow sending signals faster than light, as demonstrated by the no-communication theorem.
Another possibility opened by entanglement is testing for " hidden variables", hypothetical properties more fundamental than the quantities addressed in quantum theory itself, knowledge of which would allow more exact predictions than quantum theory can provide. A collection of results, most significantly Bell's theorem, have demonstrated that broad classes of such hidden-variable theories are in fact incompatible with quantum physics. According to Bell's theorem, if nature actually operates in accord with any theory of ''local'' hidden variables, then the results of a Bell test will be constrained in a particular, quantifiable way. Many Bell tests have been performed, using entangled particles, and they have shown results incompatible with the constraints imposed by local hidden variables.
It is not possible to present these concepts in more than a superficial way without introducing the actual mathematics involved; understanding quantum mechanics requires not only manipulating complex numbers, but also linear algebra
Linear algebra is the branch of mathematics concerning linear equations such as:
:a_1x_1+\cdots +a_nx_n=b,
linear maps such as:
:(x_1, \ldots, x_n) \mapsto a_1x_1+\cdots +a_nx_n,
and their representations in vector spaces and through matrices ...

, differential equations, group theory, and other more advanced subjects. Accordingly, this article will present a mathematical formulation of quantum mechanics and survey its application to some useful and oft-studied examples.
Mathematical formulation

In the mathematically rigorous formulation of quantum mechanics, the state of a quantum mechanical system is a vector $\backslash psi$ belonging to a ( separable) complexHilbert space
In mathematics, Hilbert spaces (named after David Hilbert) allow generalizing the methods of linear algebra and calculus from (finite-dimensional) Euclidean vector spaces to spaces that may be infinite-dimensional. Hilbert spaces arise natural ...

$\backslash mathcal\; H$. This vector is postulated to be normalized under the Hilbert space inner product, that is, it obeys $\backslash langle\; \backslash psi,\backslash psi\; \backslash rangle\; =\; 1$, and it is well-defined up to a complex number of modulus 1 (the global phase), that is, $\backslash psi$ and $e^\backslash psi$ represent the same physical system. In other words, the possible states are points in the projective space of a Hilbert space, usually called the complex projective space. The exact nature of this Hilbert space is dependent on the system – for example, for describing position and momentum the Hilbert space is the space of complex square-integrable functions $L^2(\backslash mathbb\; C)$, while the Hilbert space for the spin of a single proton is simply the space of two-dimensional complex vectors $\backslash mathbb\; C^2$ with the usual inner product.
Physical quantities of interestposition, momentum, energy, spinare represented by observables, which are Hermitian (more precisely, self-adjoint) linear operators acting on the Hilbert space. A quantum state can be an eigenvector
In linear algebra, an eigenvector () or characteristic vector of a linear transformation is a nonzero vector that changes at most by a scalar factor when that linear transformation is applied to it. The corresponding eigenvalue, often denoted ...

of an observable, in which case it is called an eigenstate, and the associated eigenvalue
In linear algebra, an eigenvector () or characteristic vector of a linear transformation is a nonzero vector that changes at most by a scalar factor when that linear transformation is applied to it. The corresponding eigenvalue, often denote ...

corresponds to the value of the observable in that eigenstate. More generally, a quantum state will be a linear combination of the eigenstates, known as a quantum superposition. When an observable is measured, the result will be one of its eigenvalues with probability given by the Born rule: in the simplest case the eigenvalue $\backslash lambda$ is non-degenerate and the probability is given by $,\; \backslash langle\; \backslash vec\backslash lambda,\backslash psi\backslash rangle,\; ^2$, where $\backslash vec\backslash lambda$ is its associated eigenvector. More generally, the eigenvalue is degenerate and the probability is given by $\backslash langle\; \backslash psi,P\_\backslash lambda\backslash psi\backslash rangle$, where $P\_\backslash lambda$ is the projector onto its associated eigenspace. In the continuous case, these formulas give instead the probability density.
After the measurement, if result $\backslash lambda$ was obtained, the quantum state is postulated to collapse to $\backslash vec\backslash lambda$, in the non-degenerate case, or to $P\_\backslash lambda\backslash psi/\backslash sqrt$, in the general case. The probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics thus stems from the act of measurement. This is one of the most difficult aspects of quantum systems to understand. It was the central topic in the famous Bohr–Einstein debates, in which the two scientists attempted to clarify these fundamental principles by way of thought experiments. In the decades after the formulation of quantum mechanics, the question of what constitutes a "measurement" has been extensively studied. Newer interpretations of quantum mechanics have been formulated that do away with the concept of " wave function collapse" (see, for example, the many-worlds interpretation). The basic idea is that when a quantum system interacts with a measuring apparatus, their respective wave functions become entangled so that the original quantum system ceases to exist as an independent entity. For details, see the article on measurement in quantum mechanics.Chapter 8, p. 215

The time evolution of a quantum state is described by the

Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation is a linear partial differential equation that governs the wave function of a quantum-mechanical system. It is a key result in quantum mechanics, and its discovery was a significant landmark in the development of th ...

:
:$i\backslash hbar\; \backslash psi\; (t)\; =H\; \backslash psi\; (t).$
Here $H$ denotes the Hamiltonian, the observable corresponding to the total energy of the system, and $\backslash hbar$ is the reduced Planck constant
The Planck constant, or Planck's constant, is a fundamental physical constant of foundational importance in quantum mechanics. The constant gives the relationship between the energy of a photon and its frequency, and by the mass-energy equivale ...

. The constant $i\backslash hbar$ is introduced so that the Hamiltonian is reduced to the classical Hamiltonian in cases where the quantum system can be approximated by a classical system; the ability to make such an approximation in certain limits is called the correspondence principle.
The solution of this differential equation is given by
:$\backslash psi(t)\; =\; e^\backslash psi(0).$
The operator $U(t)\; =\; e^$ is known as the time-evolution operator, and has the crucial property that it is unitary. This time evolution is deterministic
Determinism is a philosophical view, where all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have developed from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and cons ...

in the sense that – given an initial quantum state $\backslash psi(0)$ – it makes a definite prediction of what the quantum state $\backslash psi(t)$ will be at any later time.
Some wave functions produce probability distributions that are independent of time, such as eigenstates of the Hamiltonian. Many systems that are treated dynamically in classical mechanics are described by such "static" wave functions. For example, a single electron
The electron ( or ) is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family,
and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have n ...

in an unexcited atom
Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons.
Every solid, liquid, g ...

is pictured classically as a particle moving in a circular trajectory around the atomic nucleus
The atomic nucleus is the small, dense region consisting of protons and neutrons at the center of an atom, discovered in 1911 by Ernest Rutherford based on the 1909 Geiger–Marsden gold foil experiment. After the discovery of the neutro ...

, whereas in quantum mechanics, it is described by a static wave function surrounding the nucleus. For example, the electron wave function for an unexcited hydrogen atom is a spherically symmetric function known as an ''s'' orbital ( Fig. 1).
Analytic solutions of the Schrödinger equation are known for very few relatively simple model Hamiltonians including the quantum harmonic oscillator, the particle in a box, the dihydrogen cation, and the hydrogen atom. Even the helium
Helium (from el, ἥλιος, helios, lit=sun) is a chemical element with the symbol He and atomic number 2. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas and the first in the noble gas group in the periodic ta ...

atom – which contains just two electrons – has defied all attempts at a fully analytic treatment.
However, there are techniques for finding approximate solutions. One method, called perturbation theory, uses the analytic result for a simple quantum mechanical model to create a result for a related but more complicated model by (for example) the addition of a weak potential energy. Another method is called "semi-classical equation of motion", which applies to systems for which quantum mechanics produces only small deviations from classical behavior. These deviations can then be computed based on the classical motion. This approach is particularly important in the field of quantum chaos.
Uncertainty principle

One consequence of the basic quantum formalism is theuncertainty principle
In quantum mechanics, the uncertainty principle (also known as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle) is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the accuracy with which the values for certain pairs of physic ...

. In its most familiar form, this states that no preparation of a quantum particle can imply simultaneously precise predictions both for a measurement of its position and for a measurement of its momentum. Both position and momentum are observables, meaning that they are represented by Hermitian operators. The position operator $\backslash hat$ and momentum operator $\backslash hat$ do not commute, but rather satisfy the canonical commutation relation:
:$;\; href="/html/ALL/s/hat,\_\backslash hat.html"\; ;"title="hat,\; \backslash hat">hat,\; \backslash hat$
Given a quantum state, the Born rule lets us compute expectation values for both $X$ and $P$, and moreover for powers of them. Defining
the uncertainty for an observable by a standard deviation
In statistics, the standard deviation is a measure of the amount of variation or dispersion of a set of values. A low standard deviation indicates that the values tend to be close to the mean (also called the expected value) of the set, whil ...

, we have
:$\backslash sigma\_X=\backslash sqrt,$
and likewise for the momentum:
:$\backslash sigma\_P=\backslash sqrt.$
The uncertainty principle states that
:$\backslash sigma\_X\; \backslash sigma\_P\; \backslash geq\; \backslash frac.$
Either standard deviation can in principle be made arbitrarily small, but not both simultaneously.Section 3.2 of . This fact is experimentally well-known for example in quantum optics; see e.g. chap. 2 and Fig. 2.1 This inequality generalizes to arbitrary pairs of self-adjoint operators $A$ and $B$. The commutator of these two operators is
:$;\; href="/html/ALL/s/,B.html"\; ;"title=",B">,B$
and this provides the lower bound on the product of standard deviations:
:$\backslash sigma\_A\; \backslash sigma\_B\; \backslash geq\; \backslash frac\backslash left,\; \backslash langle;\; href="/html/ALL/s/,B.html"\; ;"title=",B">,B$
Another consequence of the canonical commutation relation is that the position and momentum operators are Fourier transforms
A Fourier transform (FT) is a mathematical transform that decomposes functions into frequency components, which are represented by the output of the transform as a function of frequency. Most commonly functions of time or space are transformed, ...

of each other, so that a description of an object according to its momentum is the Fourier transform of its description according to its position. The fact that dependence in momentum is the Fourier transform of the dependence in position means that the momentum operator is equivalent (up to an $i/\backslash hbar$ factor) to taking the derivative according to the position, since in Fourier analysis differentiation corresponds to multiplication in the dual space. This is why in quantum equations in position space, the momentum $p\_i$ is replaced by $-i\; \backslash hbar\; \backslash frac$, and in particular in the non-relativistic Schrödinger equation in position space the momentum-squared term is replaced with a Laplacian times $-\backslash hbar^2$.
Composite systems and entanglement

When two different quantum systems are considered together, the Hilbert space of the combined system is the tensor product of the Hilbert spaces of the two components. For example, let and be two quantum systems, with Hilbert spaces $\backslash mathcal\; H\_A$ and $\backslash mathcal\; H\_B$, respectively. The Hilbert space of the composite system is then : $\backslash mathcal\; H\_\; =\; \backslash mathcal\; H\_A\; \backslash otimes\; \backslash mathcal\; H\_B.$ If the state for the first system is the vector $\backslash psi\_A$ and the state for the second system is $\backslash psi\_B$, then the state of the composite system is : $\backslash psi\_A\; \backslash otimes\; \backslash psi\_B.$ Not all states in the joint Hilbert space $\backslash mathcal\; H\_$ can be written in this form, however, because the superposition principle implies that linear combinations of these "separable" or "product states" are also valid. For example, if $\backslash psi\_A$ and $\backslash phi\_A$ are both possible states for system $A$, and likewise $\backslash psi\_B$ and $\backslash phi\_B$ are both possible states for system $B$, then : $\backslash tfrac\; \backslash left\; (\; \backslash psi\_A\; \backslash otimes\; \backslash psi\_B\; +\; \backslash phi\_A\; \backslash otimes\; \backslash phi\_B\; \backslash right\; )$ is a valid joint state that is not separable. States that are not separable are called entangled. If the state for a composite system is entangled, it is impossible to describe either component system or system by a state vector. One can instead define reduced density matrices that describe the statistics that can be obtained by making measurements on either component system alone. This necessarily causes a loss of information, though: knowing the reduced density matrices of the individual systems is not enough to reconstruct the state of the composite system. Just as density matrices specify the state of a subsystem of a larger system, analogously, positive operator-valued measures (POVMs) describe the effect on a subsystem of a measurement performed on a larger system. POVMs are extensively used in quantum information theory. As described above, entanglement is a key feature of models of measurement processes in which an apparatus becomes entangled with the system being measured. Systems interacting with the environment in which they reside generally become entangled with that environment, a phenomenon known as quantum decoherence. This can explain why, in practice, quantum effects are difficult to observe in systems larger than microscopic.Equivalence between formulations

There are many mathematically equivalent formulations of quantum mechanics. One of the oldest and most common is the " transformation theory" proposed by Paul Dirac, which unifies and generalizes the two earliest formulations of quantum mechanics –matrix mechanics
Matrix mechanics is a formulation of quantum mechanics created by Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, and Pascual Jordan in 1925. It was the first conceptually autonomous and logically consistent formulation of quantum mechanics. Its account of quant ...

(invented by Werner Heisenberg) and wave mechanics Wave mechanics may refer to:
* the mechanics of waves
* the ''wave equation'' in quantum physics, see Schrödinger equation
See also
* Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics that provides a description o ...

(invented by Erwin Schrödinger). An alternative formulation of quantum mechanics is Feynman's path integral formulation, in which a quantum-mechanical amplitude is considered as a sum over all possible classical and non-classical paths between the initial and final states. This is the quantum-mechanical counterpart of the action principle in classical mechanics.
Symmetries and conservation laws

The Hamiltonian $H$ is known as the ''generator'' of time evolution, since it defines a unitary time-evolution operator $U(t)\; =\; e^$ for each value of $t$. From this relation between $U(t)$ and $H$, it follows that any observable $A$ that commutes with $H$ will be ''conserved'': its expectation value will not change over time. This statement generalizes, as mathematically, any Hermitian operator $A$ can generate a family of unitary operators parameterized by a variable $t$. Under the evolution generated by $A$, any observable $B$ that commutes with $A$ will be conserved. Moreover, if $B$ is conserved by evolution under $A$, then $A$ is conserved under the evolution generated by $B$. This implies a quantum version of the result proven by Emmy Noether in classical ( Lagrangian) mechanics: for every differentiablesymmetry
Symmetry (from grc, συμμετρία "agreement in dimensions, due proportion, arrangement") in everyday language refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance. In mathematics, "symmetry" has a more precise definiti ...

of a Hamiltonian, there exists a corresponding conservation law.
Examples

Free particle

The simplest example of a quantum system with a position degree of freedom is a free particle in a single spatial dimension. A free particle is one which is not subject to external influences, so that its Hamiltonian consists only of its kinetic energy: :$H\; =\; \backslash fracP^2\; =\; -\; \backslash frac\; \backslash frac\; .$ The general solution of the Schrödinger equation is given by :$\backslash psi\; (x,t)=\backslash frac\; \backslash int\; \_^\backslash infty(k,0)e^\backslash mathrmk,$ which is a superposition of all possible plane waves $e^$, which are eigenstates of the momentum operator with momentum $p\; =\; \backslash hbar\; k$. The coefficients of the superposition are $\backslash hat\; (k,0)$, which is the Fourier transform of the initial quantum state $\backslash psi(x,0)$. It is not possible for the solution to be a single momentum eigenstate, or a single position eigenstate, as these are not normalizable quantum states. Instead, we can consider a Gaussian wave packet: :$\backslash psi(x,0)\; =\; \backslash frace^$ which has Fourier transform, and therefore momentum distribution :$\backslash hat\; \backslash psi(k,0)\; =\; \backslash sqrt;\; href="/html/ALL/s/.html"\; ;"title="">$ We see that as we make $a$ smaller the spread in position gets smaller, but the spread in momentum gets larger. Conversely, by making $a$ larger we make the spread in momentum smaller, but the spread in position gets larger. This illustrates the uncertainty principle. As we let the Gaussian wave packet evolve in time, we see that its center moves through space at a constant velocity (like a classical particle with no forces acting on it). However, the wave packet will also spread out as time progresses, which means that the position becomes more and more uncertain. The uncertainty in momentum, however, stays constant.Particle in a box

The particle in a one-dimensional potential energy box is the most mathematically simple example where restraints lead to the quantization of energy levels. The box is defined as having zero potential energy everywhere ''inside'' a certain region, and therefore infinite potential energy everywhere ''outside'' that region. For the one-dimensional case in the $x$ direction, the time-independent Schrödinger equation may be written : $-\; \backslash frac\; \backslash frac\; =\; E\; \backslash psi.$ With the differential operator defined by : $\backslash hat\_x\; =\; -i\backslash hbar\backslash frac$ the previous equation is evocative of the classic kinetic energy analogue, : $\backslash frac\; \backslash hat\_x^2\; =\; E,$ with state $\backslash psi$ in this case having energy $E$ coincident with the kinetic energy of the particle. The general solutions of the Schrödinger equation for the particle in a box are : $\backslash psi(x)\; =\; A\; e^\; +\; B\; e\; ^\; \backslash qquad\backslash qquad\; E\; =\; \backslash frac$ or, from Euler's formula, : $\backslash psi(x)\; =\; C\; \backslash sin(kx)\; +\; D\; \backslash cos(kx).\backslash !$ The infinite potential walls of the box determine the values of $C,\; D,$ and $k$ at $x=0$ and $x=L$ where $\backslash psi$ must be zero. Thus, at $x=0$, :$\backslash psi(0)\; =\; 0\; =\; C\backslash sin(0)\; +\; D\backslash cos(0)\; =\; D$ and $D=0$. At $x=L$, :$\backslash psi(L)\; =\; 0\; =\; C\backslash sin(kL),$ in which $C$ cannot be zero as this would conflict with the postulate that $\backslash psi$ has norm 1. Therefore, since $\backslash sin(kL)=0$, $kL$ must be an integer multiple of $\backslash pi$, :$k\; =\; \backslash frac\backslash qquad\backslash qquad\; n=1,2,3,\backslash ldots.$ This constraint on $k$ implies a constraint on the energy levels, yielding $E\_n\; =\; \backslash frac\; =\; \backslash frac.$ A finite potential well is the generalization of the infinite potential well problem to potential wells having finite depth. The finite potential well problem is mathematically more complicated than the infinite particle-in-a-box problem as the wave function is not pinned to zero at the walls of the well. Instead, the wave function must satisfy more complicated mathematical boundary conditions as it is nonzero in regions outside the well. Another related problem is that of the rectangular potential barrier, which furnishes a model for the quantum tunneling effect that plays an important role in the performance of modern technologies such asflash memory
Flash memory is an electronic non-volatile computer memory storage medium that can be electrically erased and reprogrammed. The two main types of flash memory, NOR flash and NAND flash, are named for the NOR and NAND logic gates. Both use ...

and scanning tunneling microscopy.
Harmonic oscillator

As in the classical case, the potential for the quantum harmonic oscillator is given by :$V(x)=\backslash fracm\backslash omega^2x^2.$ This problem can either be treated by directly solving the Schrödinger equation, which is not trivial, or by using the more elegant "ladder method" first proposed by Paul Dirac. The eigenstates are given by :$\backslash psi\_n(x)\; =\; \backslash sqrt\; \backslash cdot\; \backslash left(\backslash frac\backslash right)^\; \backslash cdot\; e^\; \backslash cdot\; H\_n\backslash left(\backslash sqrt\; x\; \backslash right),\; \backslash qquad$ :$n\; =\; 0,1,2,\backslash ldots.$ where ''HMach–Zehnder interferometer

The Mach–Zehnder interferometer (MZI) illustrates the concepts of superposition and interference with linear algebra in dimension 2, rather than differential equations. It can be seen as a simplified version of the double-slit experiment, but it is of interest in its own right, for example in the delayed choice quantum eraser, the Elitzur–Vaidman bomb tester, and in studies of quantum entanglement. We can model a photon going through the interferometer by considering that at each point it can be in a superposition of only two paths: the "lower" path which starts from the left, goes straight through both beam splitters, and ends at the top, and the "upper" path which starts from the bottom, goes straight through both beam splitters, and ends at the right. The quantum state of the photon is therefore a vector $\backslash psi\; \backslash in\; \backslash mathbb^2$ that is a superposition of the "lower" path $\backslash psi\_l\; =\; \backslash begin\; 1\; \backslash \backslash \; 0\; \backslash end$ and the "upper" path $\backslash psi\_u\; =\; \backslash begin\; 0\; \backslash \backslash \; 1\; \backslash end$, that is, $\backslash psi\; =\; \backslash alpha\; \backslash psi\_l\; +\; \backslash beta\; \backslash psi\_u$ for complex $\backslash alpha,\backslash beta$. In order to respect the postulate that $\backslash langle\; \backslash psi,\backslash psi\backslash rangle\; =\; 1$ we require that $,\; \backslash alpha,\; ^2+,\; \backslash beta,\; ^2\; =\; 1$. Bothbeam splitter
A beam splitter or ''beamsplitter'' is an optical device that splits a beam of light into a transmitted and a reflected beam. It is a crucial part of many optical experimental and measurement systems, such as interferometers, also finding wide ...

s are modelled as the unitary matrix $B\; =\; \backslash frac1\backslash begin\; 1\; \&\; i\; \backslash \backslash \; i\; \&\; 1\; \backslash end$, which means that when a photon meets the beam splitter it will either stay on the same path with a probability amplitude of $1/\backslash sqrt$, or be reflected to the other path with a probability amplitude of $i/\backslash sqrt$. The phase shifter on the upper arm is modelled as the unitary matrix $P\; =\; \backslash begin\; 1\; \&\; 0\; \backslash \backslash \; 0\; \&\; e^\; \backslash end$, which means that if the photon is on the "upper" path it will gain a relative phase of $\backslash Delta\backslash Phi$, and it will stay unchanged if it is in the lower path.
A photon that enters the interferometer from the left will then be acted upon with a beam splitter $B$, a phase shifter $P$, and another beam splitter $B$, and so end up in the state
:$BPB\backslash psi\_l\; =\; ie^\; \backslash begin\; -\backslash sin(\backslash Delta\backslash Phi/2)\; \backslash \backslash \; \backslash cos(\backslash Delta\backslash Phi/2)\; \backslash end,$
and the probabilities that it will be detected at the right or at the top are given respectively by
:$p(u)\; =\; ,\; \backslash langle\; \backslash psi\_u,\; BPB\backslash psi\_l\; \backslash rangle,\; ^2\; =\; \backslash cos^2\; \backslash frac,$
:$p(l)\; =\; ,\; \backslash langle\; \backslash psi\_l,\; BPB\backslash psi\_l\; \backslash rangle,\; ^2\; =\; \backslash sin^2\; \backslash frac.$
One can therefore use the Mach–Zehnder interferometer to estimate the phase shift by estimating these probabilities.
It is interesting to consider what would happen if the photon were definitely in either the "lower" or "upper" paths between the beam splitters. This can be accomplished by blocking one of the paths, or equivalently by removing the first beam splitter (and feeding the photon from the left or the bottom, as desired). In both cases there will be no interference between the paths anymore, and the probabilities are given by $p(u)=p(l)\; =\; 1/2$, independently of the phase $\backslash Delta\backslash Phi$. From this we can conclude that the photon does not take one path or another after the first beam splitter, but rather that it is in a genuine quantum superposition of the two paths.
Applications

Quantum mechanics has had enormous success in explaining many of the features of our universe, with regards to small-scale and discrete quantities and interactions which cannot be explained by classical methods. Quantum mechanics is often the only theory that can reveal the individual behaviors of thesubatomic particle
In physical sciences, a subatomic particle is a particle that composes an atom. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, a subatomic particle can be either a composite particle, which is composed of other particles (for example, a p ...

s that make up all forms of matter (electron
The electron ( or ) is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family,
and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have n ...

s, proton
A proton is a stable subatomic particle, symbol , H+, or 1H+ with a positive electric charge of +1 ''e'' elementary charge. Its mass is slightly less than that of a neutron and 1,836 times the mass of an electron (the proton–electron mas ...

s, neutron
The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol or , which has a neutral (not positive or negative) charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons beha ...

s, photon
A photon () is an elementary particle that is a quantum of the electromagnetic field, including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. Photons are massless, so they ...

s, and others). Solid-state physics
Solid-state physics is the study of rigid matter, or solids, through methods such as quantum mechanics, crystallography, electromagnetism, and metallurgy. It is the largest branch of condensed matter physics. Solid-state physics studies how t ...

and materials science are dependent upon quantum mechanics.
In many aspects modern technology operates at a scale where quantum effects are significant. Important applications of quantum theory include quantum chemistry
Quantum chemistry, also called molecular quantum mechanics, is a branch of physical chemistry focused on the application of quantum mechanics to chemical systems, particularly towards the quantum-mechanical calculation of electronic contribution ...

, quantum optics
Quantum optics is a branch of atomic, molecular, and optical physics dealing with how individual quanta of light, known as photons, interact with atoms and molecules. It includes the study of the particle-like properties of photons. Photons have ...

, quantum computing, superconducting magnets, light-emitting diode
A light-emitting diode (LED) is a semiconductor device that emits light when current flows through it. Electrons in the semiconductor recombine with electron holes, releasing energy in the form of photons. The color of the light ...

s, the optical amplifier and the laser, the transistor
upright=1.4, gate (G), body (B), source (S) and drain (D) terminals. The gate is separated from the body by an insulating layer (pink).
A transistor is a semiconductor device used to Electronic amplifier, amplify or electronic switch, switch e ...

and semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material which has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Its resistivity falls as its temperature rises; metals behave in the opposite way ...

s such as the microprocessor
A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit, or a small number of integrated circuits. The microprocessor contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circu ...

, medical and research imaging such as magnetic resonance imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy and the physiological processes of the body. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields, magnetic field gradients, and radio wav ...

and electron microscopy. Explanations for many biological and physical phenomena are rooted in the nature of the chemical bond, most notably the macro-molecule DNA.
Relation to other scientific theories

Classical mechanics

The rules of quantum mechanics assert that the state space of a system is aHilbert space
In mathematics, Hilbert spaces (named after David Hilbert) allow generalizing the methods of linear algebra and calculus from (finite-dimensional) Euclidean vector spaces to spaces that may be infinite-dimensional. Hilbert spaces arise natural ...

and that observables of the system are Hermitian operators acting on vectors in that space – although they do not tell us which Hilbert space or which operators. These can be chosen appropriately in order to obtain a quantitative description of a quantum system, a necessary step in making physical predictions. An important guide for making these choices is the correspondence principle, a heuristic which states that the predictions of quantum mechanics reduce to those of classical mechanics in the regime of large quantum numbers. One can also start from an established classical model of a particular system, and then try to guess the underlying quantum model that would give rise to the classical model in the correspondence limit. This approach is known as quantization.
When quantum mechanics was originally formulated, it was applied to models whose correspondence limit was non-relativistic classical mechanics
Classical mechanics is a physical theory describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. For objects governed by class ...

. For instance, the well-known model of the quantum harmonic oscillator uses an explicitly non-relativistic expression for the kinetic energy
In physics, the kinetic energy of an object is the energy that it possesses due to its motion.
It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its ac ...

of the oscillator, and is thus a quantum version of the classical harmonic oscillator.
Complications arise with chaotic systems, which do not have good quantum numbers, and quantum chaos studies the relationship between classical and quantum descriptions in these systems.
Quantum decoherence is a mechanism through which quantum systems lose coherence, and thus become incapable of displaying many typically quantum effects: quantum superpositions become simply probabilistic mixtures, and quantum entanglement
Quantum entanglement is the phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the group cannot be described independently of the state of ...

becomes simply classical correlations. Quantum coherence is not typically evident at macroscopic scales, except maybe at temperatures approaching absolute zero
Absolute zero is the lowest limit of the thermodynamic temperature scale, a state at which the enthalpy and entropy of a cooled ideal gas reach their minimum value, taken as zero kelvin. The fundamental particles of nature have minimum vibrati ...

at which quantum behavior may manifest macroscopically.
Many macroscopic properties of a classical system are a direct consequence of the quantum behavior of its parts. For example, the stability of bulk matter (consisting of atoms and molecule
A molecule is a group of two or more atoms held together by attractive forces known as chemical bonds; depending on context, the term may or may not include ions which satisfy this criterion. In quantum physics, organic chemistry, and bio ...

s which would quickly collapse under electric forces alone), the rigidity of solids, and the mechanical, thermal, chemical, optical and magnetic properties of matter are all results of the interaction of electric charge
Electric charge is the physical property of matter that causes charged matter to experience a force when placed in an electromagnetic field. Electric charge can be ''positive'' or ''negative'' (commonly carried by protons and electrons respe ...

s under the rules of quantum mechanics.
Special relativity and electrodynamics

Early attempts to merge quantum mechanics with special relativity involved the replacement of the Schrödinger equation with a covariant equation such as the Klein–Gordon equation or theDirac equation
In particle physics, the Dirac equation is a relativistic wave equation derived by British physicist Paul Dirac in 1928. In its free form, or including electromagnetic interactions, it describes all spin- massive particles, called "Dirac pa ...

. While these theories were successful in explaining many experimental results, they had certain unsatisfactory qualities stemming from their neglect of the relativistic creation and annihilation of particles. A fully relativistic quantum theory required the development of quantum field theory, which applies quantization to a field (rather than a fixed set of particles). The first complete quantum field theory, quantum electrodynamics, provides a fully quantum description of the electromagnetic interaction. Quantum electrodynamics is, along with general relativity, one of the most accurate physical theories ever devised.
The full apparatus of quantum field theory is often unnecessary for describing electrodynamic systems. A simpler approach, one that has been used since the inception of quantum mechanics, is to treat charged particles as quantum mechanical objects being acted on by a classical electromagnetic field
An electromagnetic field (also EM field or EMF) is a classical (i.e. non-quantum) field produced by (stationary or moving) electric charges. It is the field described by classical electrodynamics (a classical field theory) and is the classical ...

. For example, the elementary quantum model of the hydrogen atom describes the electric field
An electric field (sometimes E-field) is the physical field that surrounds electrically charged particles and exerts force on all other charged particles in the field, either attracting or repelling them. It also refers to the physical field ...

of the hydrogen atom using a classical $\backslash textstyle\; -e^2/(4\; \backslash pi\backslash epsilon\_r)$ Coulomb potential. This "semi-classical" approach fails if quantum fluctuations in the electromagnetic field play an important role, such as in the emission of photon
A photon () is an elementary particle that is a quantum of the electromagnetic field, including electromagnetic radiation such as light and radio waves, and the force carrier for the electromagnetic force. Photons are massless, so they ...

s by charged particles.
Quantum field theories for the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force have also been developed. The quantum field theory of the strong nuclear force is called quantum chromodynamics, and describes the interactions of subnuclear particles such as quarks and gluons. The weak nuclear force and the electromagnetic force were unified, in their quantized forms, into a single quantum field theory (known as electroweak theory), by the physicists Abdus Salam, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg.
Relation to general relativity

Even though the predictions of both quantum theory and general relativity have been supported by rigorous and repeated empirical evidence, their abstract formalisms contradict each other and they have proven extremely difficult to incorporate into one consistent, cohesive model. Gravity is negligible in many areas of particle physics, so that unification between general relativity and quantum mechanics is not an urgent issue in those particular applications. However, the lack of a correct theory of quantum gravity is an important issue in physical cosmology and the search by physicists for an elegant " Theory of Everything" (TOE). Consequently, resolving the inconsistencies between both theories has been a major goal of 20th- and 21st-century physics. This TOE would combine not only the models of subatomic physics but also derive the four fundamental forces of nature from a single force or phenomenon. One proposal for doing so is string theory, which posits that the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. String theory describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other. On distance scales larger than the string scale, a string looks just like an ordinary particle, with itsmass
Mass is an intrinsic property of a body. It was traditionally believed to be related to the quantity of matter in a physical body, until the discovery of the atom and particle physics. It was found that different atoms and different ele ...

, charge, and other properties determined by the vibration
Vibration is a mechanical phenomenon whereby oscillations occur about an equilibrium point. The word comes from Latin ''vibrationem'' ("shaking, brandishing"). The oscillations may be periodic, such as the motion of a pendulum—or random, su ...

al state of the string. In string theory, one of the many vibrational states of the string corresponds to the graviton, a quantum mechanical particle that carries gravitational force.
Another popular theory is loop quantum gravity (LQG), which describes quantum properties of gravity and is thus a theory of quantum spacetime. LQG is an attempt to merge and adapt standard quantum mechanics and standard general relativity. This theory describes space as an extremely fine fabric "woven" of finite loops called spin networks. The evolution of a spin network over time is called a spin foam. The characteristic length scale of a spin foam is the Planck length, approximately 1.616×10Philosophical implications

Since its inception, the many counter-intuitive aspects and results of quantum mechanics have provoked strong philosophical debates and many interpretations. The arguments centre on the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, the difficulties with wavefunction collapse and the related measurement problem, and quantum nonlocality. Perhaps the only consensus that exists about these issues is that there is no consensus.Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman (; May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the supe ...

once said, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics." According to Steven Weinberg, "There is now in my opinion no entirely satisfactory interpretation of quantum mechanics."
The views of Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr (; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 ...

, Werner Heisenberg and other physicists are often grouped together as the " Copenhagen interpretation". According to these views, the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics is not a ''temporary'' feature which will eventually be replaced by a deterministic theory, but is instead a ''final'' renunciation of the classical idea of "causality". Bohr in particular emphasized that any well-defined application of the quantum mechanical formalism must always make reference to the experimental arrangement, due to the complementary nature of evidence obtained under different experimental situations. Copenhagen-type interpretations remain popular in the 21st century.
Albert Einstein, himself one of the founders of quantum theory, was troubled by its apparent failure to respect some cherished metaphysical principles, such as determinism and locality. Einstein's long-running exchanges with Bohr about the meaning and status of quantum mechanics are now known as the Bohr–Einstein debates. Einstein believed that underlying quantum mechanics must be a theory that explicitly forbids action at a distance. He argued that quantum mechanics was incomplete, a theory that was valid but not fundamental, analogous to how thermodynamics is valid, but the fundamental theory behind it is statistical mechanics
In physics, statistical mechanics is a mathematical framework that applies statistical methods and probability theory to large assemblies of microscopic entities. It does not assume or postulate any natural laws, but explains the macroscopic b ...

. In 1935, Einstein and his collaborators Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen published an argument that the principle of locality implies the incompleteness of quantum mechanics, a thought experiment later termed the Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen paradox. In 1964, John Bell showed that EPR's principle of locality, together with determinism, was actually incompatible with quantum mechanics: they implied constraints on the correlations produced by distance systems, now known as Bell inequalities, that can be violated by entangled particles. Since then several experiments have been performed to obtain these correlations, with the result that they do in fact violate Bell inequalities, and thus falsify the conjunction of locality with determinism.
Bohmian mechanics shows that it is possible to reformulate quantum mechanics to make it deterministic, at the price of making it explicitly nonlocal. It attributes not only a wave function to a physical system, but in addition a real position, that evolves deterministically under a nonlocal guiding equation. The evolution of a physical system is given at all times by the Schrödinger equation
The Schrödinger equation is a linear partial differential equation that governs the wave function of a quantum-mechanical system. It is a key result in quantum mechanics, and its discovery was a significant landmark in the development of th ...

together with the guiding equation; there is never a collapse of the wave function. This solves the measurement problem.
Everett's many-worlds interpretation, formulated in 1956, holds that ''all'' the possibilities described by quantum theory ''simultaneously'' occur in a multiverse composed of mostly independent parallel universes. This is a consequence of removing the axiom of the collapse of the wave packet. All possible states of the measured system and the measuring apparatus, together with the observer, are present in a real physical quantum superposition. While the multiverse is deterministic, we perceive non-deterministic behavior governed by probabilities, because we don't observe the multiverse as a whole, but only one parallel universe at a time. Exactly how this is supposed to work has been the subject of much debate. Several attempts have been made to make sense of this and derive the Born rule, with no consensus on whether they have been successful.
Relational quantum mechanics appeared in the late 1990s as a modern derivative of Copenhagen-type ideas, and QBism was developed some years later.
History

Quantum mechanics was developed in the early decades of the 20th century, driven by the need to explain phenomena that, in some cases, had been observed in earlier times. Scientific inquiry into the wave nature of light began in the 17th and 18th centuries, when scientists such asRobert Hooke
Robert Hooke FRS (; 18 July 16353 March 1703) was an English polymath active as a scientist, natural philosopher and architect, who is credited to be one of two scientists to discover microorganisms in 1665 using a compound microscope tha ...

, Christiaan Huygens
Christiaan Huygens, Lord of Zeelhem, ( , , ; also spelled Huyghens; la, Hugenius; 14 April 1629 – 8 July 1695) was a Dutch mathematician, physicist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor, who is regarded as one of the greatest scientists ...

and Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler ( , ; 15 April 170718 September 1783) was a Swiss mathematician, physicist, astronomer, geographer, logician and engineer who founded the studies of graph theory and topology and made pioneering and influential discoveries in ...

proposed a wave theory of light based on experimental observations. In 1803 English polymath Thomas Young described the famous double-slit experiment. This experiment played a major role in the general acceptance of the wave theory of light.
During the early 19th century, chemical
A chemical substance is a form of matter having constant chemical composition and characteristic properties. Some references add that chemical substance cannot be separated into its constituent elements by physical separation methods, i.e., w ...

research by John Dalton and Amedeo Avogadro lent weight to the atomic theory
Atomic theory is the scientific theory that matter is composed of particles called atoms. Atomic theory traces its origins to an ancient philosophical tradition known as atomism. According to this idea, if one were to take a lump of matter a ...

of matter, an idea that James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell (13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879) was a Scottish mathematician and scientist responsible for the classical theory of electromagnetic radiation, which was the first theory to describe electricity, magnetism and ligh ...

, Ludwig Boltzmann and others built upon to establish the kinetic theory of gases
Kinetic (Ancient Greek: κίνησις “kinesis”, movement or to move) may refer to:
* Kinetic theory, describing a gas as particles in random motion
* Kinetic energy
In physics
Physics is the natural science that studies m ...

. The successes of kinetic theory gave further credence to the idea that matter is composed of atoms, yet the theory also had shortcomings that would only be resolved by the development of quantum mechanics. While the early conception of atoms from Greek philosophy had been that they were indivisible units the word "atom" deriving from the Greek for "uncuttable" the 19th century saw the formulation of hypotheses about subatomic structure. One important discovery in that regard was Michael Faraday's 1838 observation of a glow caused by an electrical discharge inside a glass tube containing gas at low pressure. Julius Plücker, Johann Wilhelm Hittorf and Eugen Goldstein carried on and improved upon Faraday's work, leading to the identification of cathode rays, which J. J. Thomson found to consist of subatomic particles that would be called electrons.
The black-body radiation
Black-body radiation is the thermal electromagnetic radiation within, or surrounding, a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with its environment, emitted by a black body (an idealized opaque, non-reflective body). It has a specific, continuous sp ...

problem was discovered by Gustav Kirchhoff
Gustav Robert Kirchhoff (; 12 March 1824 – 17 October 1887) was a German physicist who contributed to the fundamental understanding of electrical circuits, spectroscopy, and the emission of black-body radiation by heated objects.
He ...

in 1859. In 1900, Max Planck
Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck (, ; 23 April 1858 – 4 October 1947) was a German theoretical physicist whose discovery of energy quanta won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.
Planck made many substantial contributions to theoretica ...

proposed the hypothesis that energy is radiated and absorbed in discrete "quanta" (or energy packets), yielding a calculation that precisely matched the observed patterns of black-body radiation. The word ''quantum'' derives from the Latin
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of ...

, meaning "how great" or "how much". According to Planck, quantities of energy could be thought of as divided into "elements" whose size (''E'') would be proportional to their frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also occasionally referred to as ''temporal frequency'' for clarity, and is distinct from '' angular frequency''. Frequency is measured in hertz (Hz) which is ...

(''ν''):
:$E\; =\; h\; \backslash nu\backslash $,
where ''h'' is Planck's constant. Planck cautiously insisted that this was only an aspect of the processes of absorption and emission of radiation and was not the ''physical reality'' of the radiation. In fact, he considered his quantum hypothesis a mathematical trick to get the right answer rather than a sizable discovery. However, in 1905 Albert Einstein interpreted Planck's quantum hypothesis realistically and used it to explain the photoelectric effect, in which shining light on certain materials can eject electrons from the material. Niels Bohr
Niels Henrik David Bohr (; 7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962) was a Danish physicist who made foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922 ...

then developed Planck's ideas about radiation into a model of the hydrogen atom that successfully predicted the spectral line
A spectral line is a dark or bright line in an otherwise uniform and continuous spectrum, resulting from emission or absorption of light in a narrow frequency range, compared with the nearby frequencies. Spectral lines are often used to ide ...

s of hydrogen. Einstein further developed this idea to show that an electromagnetic wave
In physics, electromagnetic radiation (EMR) consists of waves of the electromagnetic (EM) field, which propagate through space and carry momentum and electromagnetic radiant energy. It includes radio waves, microwaves, infrared, (visible) li ...

such as light could also be described as a particle (later called the heuristic
A heuristic (; ), or heuristic technique, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be optimal, perfect, or rational, but is nevertheless sufficient for reaching an immediate ...

corrections to classical mechanics
Classical mechanics is a physical theory describing the motion of macroscopic objects, from projectiles to parts of machinery, and astronomical objects, such as spacecraft, planets, stars, and galaxies. For objects governed by class ...

. The theory is now understood as a semi-classical approximation to modern quantum mechanics. Notable results from this period include, in addition to the work of Planck, Einstein and Bohr mentioned above, Einstein and Peter Debye
Peter Joseph William Debye (; ; March 24, 1884 – November 2, 1966) was a Dutch-American physicist and physical chemist, and Nobel laureate in Chemistry.
Biography
Early life
Born Petrus Josephus Wilhelmus Debije in Maastricht, Netherlands ...

's work on the specific heat of solids, Bohr and Hendrika Johanna van Leeuwen's proof that classical physics cannot account for diamagnetism, and Arnold Sommerfeld's extension of the Bohr model to include special-relativistic effects.
In the mid-1920s quantum mechanics was developed to become the standard formulation for atomic physics. In 1923, the French physicist Louis de Broglie put forward his theory of matter waves by stating that particles can exhibit wave characteristics and vice versa. Building on de Broglie's approach, modern quantum mechanics was born in 1925, when the German physicists Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, and Pascual Jordan
Ernst Pascual Jordan (; 18 October 1902 – 31 July 1980) was a German theoretical and mathematical physicist who made significant contributions to quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. He contributed much to the mathematical form of matri ...

David Edwards,"The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics", ''Synthese'', Volume 42, Number 1/September, 1979, pp. 1–70.D. Edwards, "The Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Field Theory: Fermions, Gauge Fields, and Super-symmetry, Part I: Lattice Field Theories", ''International J. of Theor. Phys.'', Vol. 20, No. 7 (1981). developed matrix mechanics
Matrix mechanics is a formulation of quantum mechanics created by Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, and Pascual Jordan in 1925. It was the first conceptually autonomous and logically consistent formulation of quantum mechanics. Its account of quant ...

and the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger invented wave mechanics Wave mechanics may refer to:
* the mechanics of waves
* the ''wave equation'' in quantum physics, see Schrödinger equation
See also
* Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics that provides a description o ...

. Born introduced the probabilistic interpretation of Schrödinger's wave function in July 1926. Thus, the entire field of quantum physics emerged, leading to its wider acceptance at the Fifth Solvay Conference in 1927.
By 1930 quantum mechanics had been further unified and formalized by David Hilbert
David Hilbert (; ; 23 January 1862 – 14 February 1943) was a German mathematician, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many ...

, Paul Dirac and John von Neumann with greater emphasis on measurement
Measurement is the quantification of attributes of an object or event, which can be used to compare with other objects or events.
In other words, measurement is a process of determining how large or small a physical quantity is as compared ...

, the statistical nature of our knowledge of reality, and philosophical speculation about the 'observer'. It has since permeated many disciplines, including quantum chemistry, quantum electronics, quantum optics
Quantum optics is a branch of atomic, molecular, and optical physics dealing with how individual quanta of light, known as photons, interact with atoms and molecules. It includes the study of the particle-like properties of photons. Photons have ...

, and quantum information science. It also provides a useful framework for many features of the modern periodic table of elements, and describes the behaviors of atoms
Every atom is composed of a nucleus and one or more electrons bound to the nucleus. The nucleus is made of one or more protons and a number of neutrons. Only the most common variety of hydrogen has no neutrons.
Every solid, liquid, gas, an ...

during chemical bond
A chemical bond is a lasting attraction between atoms or ions that enables the formation of molecules and crystals. The bond may result from the electrostatic force between oppositely charged ions as in ionic bonds, or through the sharing o ...

ing and the flow of semiconductor
A semiconductor is a material which has an electrical conductivity value falling between that of a conductor, such as copper, and an insulator, such as glass. Its resistivity falls as its temperature rises; metals behave in the opposite way ...

s, and therefore plays a crucial role in many modern technologies. While quantum mechanics was constructed to describe the world of the very small, it is also needed to explain some macroscopic phenomena such as superconductors and superfluids.
See also

* Bra–ket notation * Einstein's thought experiments * List of textbooks on classical and quantum mechanics * Macroscopic quantum phenomena * Phase-space formulation * Regularization (physics) * Two-state quantum systemExplanatory notes

References

Further reading

The following titles, all by working physicists, attempt to communicate quantum theory to lay people, using a minimum of technical apparatus. * Chester, Marvin (1987). ''Primer of Quantum Mechanics''. John Wiley. * *Richard Feynman
Richard Phillips Feynman (; May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, the physics of the supe ...

, 1985. '' QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter'', Princeton University Press. . Four elementary lectures on quantum electrodynamics and quantum field theory, yet containing many insights for the expert.
* Ghirardi, GianCarlo, 2004. ''Sneaking a Look at God's Cards'', Gerald Malsbary, trans. Princeton Univ. Press. The most technical of the works cited here. Passages using algebra
Algebra () is one of the broad areas of mathematics. Roughly speaking, algebra is the study of mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating these symbols in formulas; it is a unifying thread of almost all of mathematics.
Elementary ...

, trigonometry
Trigonometry () is a branch of mathematics that studies relationships between side lengths and angles of triangles. The field emerged in the Hellenistic world during the 3rd century BC from applications of geometry to astronomical studies. ...

, and bra–ket notation can be passed over on a first reading.
* N. David Mermin, 1990, "Spooky actions at a distance: mysteries of the QT" in his ''Boojums All the Way Through''. Cambridge University Press: 110–76.
* Victor Stenger, 2000. ''Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes''. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. Chpts. 5–8. Includes cosmological and philosophical considerations.
More technical:
*
*
*
*
* Bryce DeWitt, R. Neill Graham, eds., 1973. ''The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics'', Princeton Series in Physics, Princeton University Press.
*
*
* D. Greenberger, K. Hentschel, F. Weinert, eds., 2009. ''Compendium of quantum physics, Concepts, experiments, history and philosophy'', Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg.
* A standard undergraduate text.
* Max Jammer, 1966. ''The Conceptual Development of Quantum Mechanics''. McGraw Hill.
* Hagen Kleinert, 2004. ''Path Integrals in Quantum Mechanics, Statistics, Polymer Physics, and Financial Markets'', 3rd ed. Singapore: World ScientificDraft of 4th edition.

*

Online copy

* * Gunther Ludwig, 1968. ''Wave Mechanics''. London: Pergamon Press. *

George Mackey
George Whitelaw Mackey (February 1, 1916 – March 15, 2006) was an American mathematician known for his contributions to quantum logic, representation theory, and noncommutative geometry.
Career
Mackey earned his bachelor of arts at Rice Uni ...

(2004). ''The mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics''. Dover Publications. .
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* Albert Messiah, 1966. ''Quantum Mechanics'' (Vol. I), English translation from French by G.M. Temmer. North Holland, John Wiley & Sons. Cf. chpt. IV, section IIIonline

* * Scerri, Eric R., 2006. ''The

Periodic Table
The periodic table, also known as the periodic table of the (chemical) elements, is a rows and columns arrangement of the chemical elements. It is widely used in chemistry, physics, and other sciences, and is generally seen as an icon of ch ...

: Its Story and Its Significance''. Oxford University Press. Considers the extent to which chemistry and the periodic system have been reduced to quantum mechanics.
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* Veltman, Martinus J.G. (2003), ''Facts and Mysteries in Elementary Particle Physics''.
On Wikibooks
This Quantum World

External links

* J. O'Connor and E. F. RobertsonIntroduction to Quantum Theory at Quantiki.

Quantum Physics Made Relatively Simple

three video lectures by Hans Bethe ; Course material

Quantum Cook Book

an

PHYS 201: Fundamentals of Physics II

by Ramamurti Shankar, Yale OpenCourseware

The Modern Revolution in Physics

– an online textbook. * MIT OpenCourseWare

Chemistry

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Physics

Se

8.04

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5½ Examples in Quantum Mechanics

Imperial College Quantum Mechanics Course.

;Philosophy * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Quantum Mechanics