Exact results for 'Bouncing' Gaussian wave packets

M. Belloni, M. A. Doncheski, R. W. Robinett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We consider time-dependent Gaussian wave packet solutions of the Schrödinger equation (with arbitrary initial central position, x 0 and momentum, p0, for an otherwise free particle, but with an infinite wall at x = 0, so-called bouncing wave packets. We show how difference or mirror solutions of the form ψ(x,t) -ψ(-x,t) can, in this case, be normalized exactly, allowing for the evaluation of a number of time-dependent expectation values and other quantities in closed form. For example, we calculate (p2), explicitly which illustrates how the free-particle kinetic (and hence total) energy is affected by the presence of the distant boundary. We also discuss the time dependence of the expectation values of position, (x)t, and momentum, (p)t, and their relation to the impulsive force during the 'collision' with the wall. Finally, the x0,p0 → 0 limit is shown to reduce a special case of a non-standard free-particle Gaussian solution. The addition of this example to the literature then expands of the relatively small number of Gaussian solutions to quantum mechanical problems with familiar classical analogs (free particle, uniform acceleration, harmonic oscillator, unstable oscillator, and uniform magnetic field) available in closed form.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-140
Number of pages5
JournalPhysica Scripta
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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