An exact quantum theory of the time-dependent harmonic oscillator and of a charged particle in a time-dependent electromagnetic field

  • Lewis H
  • Riesenfeld W
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Abstract

The theory of explicitly timedependent invariants is developed for quantum systems whose Hamiltonians are explicitly time dependent. The central feature of the discussion is the derivation of a simple relation between eigenstates of such an invariant and solutions of the Schrödinger equation. As a specific wellposed application of the general theory, the case of a general Hamiltonian which settles into constant operators in the sufficiently remote past and future is treated and, in particular, the transition amplitude connecting any initial state in the remote past to any final state in the remote future is calculated in terms of eigenstates of the invariant. Two special physical systems are treated in detail: an arbitrarily timedependent harmonic oscillator and a charged particle moving in the classical, axially symmetric electromagnetic field consisting of an arbitrarily timedependent, uniform magnetic field, the associated induced electric field, and the electric field due to an arbitrarily timedependent uniform charge distribution. A class of explicitly timedependent invariants is derived for both of these systems, and the eigenvalues and eigenstates of the invariants are calculated explicitly by operator methods. The explicit connection between these eigenstates and solutions of the Schrödinger equation is also calculated. The results for the oscillator are used to obtain explicit formulas for the transition amplitude. The usual sudden and adiabatic approximations are deduced as limiting cases of the exact formulas.

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Authors

  • H. R. Lewis

  • W. B. Riesenfeld

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