Ladder Operators for the Harmonic Oscillator

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The Hamiltonian for the linear harmonic oscillator can be written , in units with . The eigenstates are given by , , , where is a Hermite polynomial. An alternative reformulation of the problem can be based on the representation in terms of ladder operators and . The step-down or annihilation operator acts on the eigenfunctions according to , with . The step-up or creation operator satisfies


In this Demonstration, the eigenfunction is plotted in black. Also shown is either in red or in blue.


Contributed by: S. M. Blinder (March 2011)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Snapshot 1: annihilates the ground state:

Snapshots 2 and 3: raises the states and by one level

Reference: S. M. Blinder, Introduction to Quantum Mechanics, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004 pp. 66–68.

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