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Revista mexicana de física E

Print version ISSN 1870-3542


DE VINCENZO, S.. On average forces and the Ehrenfest theorem for a particle in a semi-infinite interval. Rev. mex. fís. E [online]. 2013, vol.59, n.2, pp.84-90. ISSN 1870-3542.

We study the issues of average forces and the Ehrenfest theorem for a particle restricted to a semi-infinite interval by an impenetrable wall. We consider and discuss two specific cases: (i) a free particle in an infinite step potential, and (ii) a free particle on a half-line. In each situation, we show that the mean values of the position, momentum and force, as functions of time, verify the Ehrenfest theorem (the state of the particle being a general wave packet that is a continuous superposition of the energy eigenstates for the Hamiltonian). However, the involved force is not the same in each case. In fact, we have the usual external classical force in the first case and a type of nonlocal boundary quantum force in the second case. In spite of these different forces, the corresponding mean values of these quantities give the same results. Accordingly, the Ehrenfest equations in the two situations are equivalent. We believe that a careful and clear consideration of how the two cases differ but, in the end, agree, is pertinent, and has not been included in the literature.

Keywords : Quantum mechanics; Schrödinger equation; Ehrenfest theorem; average forces.

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