Schrödinger Equation for a One-Dimensional Delta Function Potential

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After the free particle, the most elementary example of a one-dimensional time-independent Schrödinger equation is conceptually that of a particle in a delta function potential: (in units with ). For an attractive potential, with , there is exactly one bound state, with and . Note that and . Since the delta function has dimensions of , this solution is considered the one-dimensional analog of a hydrogen-like atom. The bound state, in fact, resembles a cross section of a 1 orbital .


For , free particles are scattered by a delta function potential. The positive-energy solutions can be written , with . The amplitudes of the transmitted and reflected waves are accordingly given by and , respectively. Note that these are the same for attractive and repulsive delta funtion potentials, independent of the sign of .

For continuum states, the graphic shows a wave incident from the left. The transmitted wave is shown on the right in blue and the reflected wave, on the left in red, with opacities indicating relative wave amplitudes.


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



Snapshot 1: wavefunction for the single bound state

Snapshot 2: unperturbed continuum state, with

Snapshot 3: scattering state, showing incident, transmitted and reflected waves

Reference: S. M. Blinder, "Green's Function and Propagator for the One-Dimensional Delta Function Potential," Phys. Rev. A, 37(3), 1988 pp. 973–976.

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