Wave Function

Quantum Physics or Quantum mechanics is a branch of science that deals with the study and behaviour of matter as well as light. The wave function in quantum mechanics can be used to illustrate the wave properties of a particle. Therefore, a particle’s quantum state can be described using its wave function. 

This interpretation of wave function helps define the probability of the quantum state of an element as a function of position, momentum, time, and spin. It is represented by a Greek alphabet Psi, 𝚿. 

However, it is important to note that there is no physical significance of wave function itself. Nevertheless, its proportionate value of 𝚿2 at a given time and point of space does have physical importance.

Furthermore, we will discuss the Schrodinger equation, which was introduced in 1925 to define wave function. 

Schrodinger Equation 

In 1925, Erwin Schrodinger introduced this partial differential equation for wave function definition as a reward to the Quantum mechanics branch. According to him, the wave function can be satisfied and solved. 

Here is a time-dependent equation of Schrodinger shown in the image below.

ih \[\frac{{∂ }}{∂t}\]𝚿(\[\overrightarrow{r}\], t) =[ \[\frac{{-h2 }}{2m}\]∇2 + V(\[\overrightarrow{r}\], t)] 𝚿 (\[\overrightarrow{r}\], t)

In the above equations, 

  • m refers to the particle’s mass. 

  • ⛛ is laplacian. 

  • h equals to h/2𝝿, which is also known as the reduced Planck’s constant. 

  • i is the imaginary unit. 

  • E is a constant matching energy level of a system

Properties of Wave Function

  • There must be a single value for 𝚿, and it must be continuous. 

  • It is easy to compute the energy using the Schrodinger equation. 

  • Wave function equation is used to establish probability distribution in 3D space. 

  • If there is a particle, then the probability of finding it becomes 1. 

  • Properties which can be measured for a particle should be known. 

Normalization of Wave Function

In this scenario, the probability of finding a particle becomes 1 if it exists in the system. This depicts that the exact form of wave function 𝚿 is found. 

Quantum Mechanics Postulates 

  • It gets easier to decipher the force system wherein a particle in a conservative field resides with the help of a wave function. 

  • Time independent Schrodinger’s equation was derived using the time-dependent equation. 

The Physical Significance of Wave Function

There is no physical meaning of wave function as it is not a quantity which can be observed. Instead, it is complex. It is expressed as ψ(x, y, z, t) = a + ib and the complex conjugate of the wave function is expressed as ψ*(x, y, z, t) = a – ib. The product of these two indicates the probability density of finding a particle in space at a time. However, ψ2 is the physical interpretation of wave function as it provides the probability information of locating a particle at allocation in a given time. 

Choose the appropriate option 

  1. What did Schrodinger’s equation describe? 

  1. Motion of Light 

  2. Splitting atom’s process

  3. Wave function complement 

  4. Matter waves behaviour 

  1. Which of these describes probability density the best?

  1. Wave function’s absolute value

  2. Wave function’s absolute square

  3. Wave function’s square root

  4. Wave function’s inverse

Along with this topic discussed above, there are quite a few related topics which are also vital for your Physics curricula. Consequently, now you can download our Vedantu app which offers not only convenient access to detailed study material, but also to that of interactive sessions for better clarity on these topics. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is an acceptable wave function?

An acceptable wave function has to be single-valued, must be normalised, and have to be continuous in the time interval given.

2. What is the physical significance of wave function?

The wave function physical significance is none for a particle as it is a complex and non-observable quantity. However, the positive square root of the wave function has physical importance.

3. What is a normalisation of the wave function?

It is the situation wherein all the probabilities add up to make it 1. In case it adds up to some other constant, then this constant value is incorporated in the wave function to make the probability 1 and attain the state of normalisation.