Schrödinger's Equation

where the complex amplitude, , is arbitrary, while the wavenumber, , and the angular frequency, , are related to the particle momentum, , and energy, , via the fundamental relations (C.3) and (C.1), respectively. The previous one-dimensional wavefunction is the solution of a one-dimensional wave equation that determines how the wavefunction evolves in time. As described in the following, we can guess the form of this wave equation by drawing an analogy with classical physics.

A classical particle of mass , moving in a one-dimensional potential , satisfies the energy conservation equation

(C.16) |

where

(C.17) |

is the particle's kinetic energy. Hence,

is a valid, but not obviously useful, wave equation.

However, it follows from Equations (C.1) and (C.15) that

(C.19) |

which can be rearranged to give

Likewise, from Equations (C.3) and (C.15),

(C.21) | ||

(C.22) |

which can be rearranged to give

Thus, combining Equations (C.18), (C.20), and (C.23), we obtain

This equation, which is known as

For a massive particle moving in free space (i.e., ), the complex wavefunction (C.15) is a solution of Schrödinger's equation, (C.24), provided

The previous expression can be thought of as the dispersion relation for matter waves in free space. The associated

where use has been made of Equation (C.3). However, this phase velocity is only half the classical velocity, , of a massive (non-relativistic) particle.

Incidentally, Equation (C.21) suggests that

in quantum mechanics, whereas Equation (C.24) suggests that the most general form of Schrödinger's equation is

(C.28) |

where

is the Hamiltonian of the system. (See Section B.9.)