Coupled Quantum Harmonic Oscillators

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This Demonstration models a coupled system of quantum harmonic oscillators with two electron masses in SI units; two particles have displacements and from their equilibrium points. The outer springs have an angular frequency and the inner spring an angular frequency , which can be varied. Thus, the potential energy term of the Hamiltonian is .


The corresponding Schrödinger equation can be solved with the substitutions and (which are the normal mode coordinates), which reduces the problem to a two-dimensional harmonic oscillator. The energy eigenstates are then and and the wavefunction is .

This Demonstration plots (substituting back the regular displacements) and its modulus squared (which is the PDF of the displacements) for states to and their linear combinations, in which you can vary both magnitudes and phases . Some plots are significantly slower to display, especially the ones with more complex wavefunctions.


Contributed by: Humberto Munoz Bauza (September 2013)
After work by: Rachael M. McDermott and Ian H. Redmount
(Mathematica Summer Camp 2013)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



The plots are

• 3D wavefunction plots with their real and complex parts

• wavefunction real and complex density plots

• 3D PDF plots

• cross sectional plots of the PDF plot at its expectation value (with the cross section planes orthogonal to the and axes)

• PDFs of the and displacements

• density plots of the and displacements over time


[1] R. M. McDermott and I. H. Redmount, "Coupled Classical and Quantum Oscillators."

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