Do you find quantum mechanics difficult? Are you willing to know about quantum mechanics in details? Then you have landed in the right place. This article will provide you with detailed knowledge about quantum mechanics and explain all the basic principles related to it.
What is quantum mechanics?
Quantum mechanics is one of the basic theories of Physics that helps in describing nature at the smallest levels of atoms and subatomic particles. It is also termed as quantum physics, quantum theory, and matrix mechanics. Quantum mechanics deals with quantum field theories.
Classical mechanics explains various objects existing in a definite place at a particular time, but the reverse is true for quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, objects do not exist in particular. In fact, their existence depends on the results of a probability. There can be chances of the object being in one position at a definite time and in another at some other point of time. Therefore, both classical mechanics and quantum mechanics are reverse of each other I terms of their science, theory, and functionality.
Quantum mechanics came into form long ago when some controversial mathematical experiments could not be solved using the traditional theories of mathematics. There are many scientists who have worked on this subject. All of them have their share of contribution which helped in shaping this revolutionary subject of quantum mechanics.
Principles of quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics has three main principles. They can be summed up as below:
Quantized properties- there are many physical properties that are likely to be specific for a particular situation. For example, the color of an object, its speed, and position are definite for a definite point of time. This is completely contradictory to the basic principle of classical mechanics which state that these properties should continue in a linear fashion. Therefore to explain this principle of quantum physics, scientists invented the perfect word that is, quantized.
Particles of light- scientists had to face a lot of hardships in establishing this principle of quantum physics. According to this principle, light behaves like a particle in various instances. We all know that light is a form of energy and it is in the form of a wave. But there are many times when particles of light can e derived employing various theories of physics. This principle is totally reverse of what classical mechanism states that light is a wave. It moves in straight line and reflection of it from an object makes it visible to the eyes.
Waves in matters- a matter is something that has a definite shape, mass, and occupies volume. But quantum physics states that matter can also be found in the form of a wave. This principle is opposing the principle of classical mechanics as it states that, matter exists as a definite particle.
Quantized properties can also be termed as quantization. It helps in explaining the traditional theories of mechanics applying the latest approach of quantum mechanics. Therefore you can say that classical mechanics are modified into quantum mechanics applying the theories of quantum field.
The lowest level of energy addressed in quantization is the state of vacuum. Quantization is done to describe the properties of various elements by applying various techniques of quantum amplitudes. Renormalization should be carried out in the methods of quantization to ensure the authenticity of an output. If it is failed in carrying out then result of the quantization method can be considered as useless and irrelevant.
Canonical quantization is the first method that is applied in quantum field theories. This method is easy in application and leads to the surest result. But there can be situations when other theories will be required for implementation for the evaluation of quantum amplitudes.
Particles of light
According to a research paper of Albert Einstein, light does not travel in the form of a wave but in small packets of energy termed as quanta. These small packets of energy get absorbed when an atom travels between various quantized vibrations. The same can be stated when electrons jump between various orbits of energy.
Color of the light that is carried in small packets of quanta can be determined by applying Planck’s constant. This principle also explains the photoelectrical effect. In a photoelectric effect, specific colors of light are capable of emitting electrons from the solid surface of a metal.
After years of researches and experiments, it could be finally established that light travels in both forms of waves and small packets termed as quanta. Therefore the second principle of quantum mechanics is also proved. This is contradictory to the traditional theory of light but surely its existence can be guaranteed.
Waves in matter
This can also be termed as matter-wave. It has been a proved fact that all the matters in our universe exist in the form of a particle. But when the question of light waves being particles rose, the scientists were hit hard with another thought of maters existing in the form of waves. After series of experiments and researches being carried out, this contradiction could finally be addressed.
Various theories state that particles can behave like waves and waves can behave like articles in various instances. A beam of electrons can deviate from its path exactly like a ray of light can be deviated. Electrons exhibit the properties of a wave and it was first explained by De Broglie.
By arranging the equation of momentum, it can be easily explained that electrons have wavelengths. This can be true for every type of matters existing on earth. Atoms that are neutral and molecules also exhibit the properties of a wave. Thus it can be proved that matters do behave like waves in various situations.
How can quantum mechanics be described as distinctive?
All the results related to quantum models are distinctive. The quantum field energy is the multiple of fundamental energies. If light energy is considered, then its frequency and wavelength have different characteristics.
For example, if the rays of light have high amount of frequency but come in small wavelengths, then they have larger amount of energy. But if the light waves have longer wavelengths along with low frequency then they will be having small amount of energy. But in both the cases the energy can be compared with each other as one is the integer multiplication of the other. No absurd value will be achieved in this experiment.
This property also exists in the energy levels of atoms. There also some specific values of energies are allowed.
Quantum mechanics cannot be predicted
This is one of the most controversial parts of quantum mechanics that it cannot be predicted with the utmost certainty. The result of an experiment related to quantum systems cannot be calculated from beforehand applying any theory. Whenever any scientist carries out an experiment then the result has to be calculated in terms of probability. Repeated experiments are carried out and then the most favorable outcome is considered.
Quantum systems can be described by the unit of the wavefunction which is represented as psi. By squaring the wavefunction an outcome of a particular experiment is calculated. There are also many complications that come out when a particle can exist in many states in a single time frame. It is also probability that can depict the final outcome of such experiments dealing with matters that exist in multiple states simultaneously.
Quantum mechanics deals with very small matters
Quantum mechanics cannot be compared to other forms of physics as it is very contradictory to the general findings of our daily lives. The effects of any property become smaller when the size of the object increases. For example, momentum of a body increases when its wavelength decreases.
All the theories of quantum mechanics are related to the smaller elements present in a matter. This includes molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. In short, it can be concluded that quantum mechanics deals with the fundamental units of matters.
Applications of quantum mechanics in our daily lives
Fluorescent light- the lights emitted from tubes and thin bulbs are the outcome of the quantum phenomenon of light. In this form of lights, mercury is induced into the plasma of the lights in very small quantity. Mercury helps the bulbs in emitting light in the ranges that are visible to the eyes of living beings. Therefore this can be considered as a fantastic application of quantum mechanics.
Compass mechanism of living things- there are many birds that use the theories related t quantum mechanisms to fly in various directions. They are blessed with the ability that helps them to migrate in different parts of the years.
Many birds have a light-sensitive protein in them called cryptochrome that contains electrons and when light enters the bird’s eyes and reacts with that protein then various radicals are emitted. A magnetic map is produced by these radicals that that helps them to migrate to various parts of the world.
Computers- a computer is an electronics product that is built on semiconductors. The wave nature of electrons forms the core of these semiconductors. Using quantum mechanism the band structure of the solid objects in these electronic goods can be changed.
Toasters- it is only the theories of quantum mechanics that help the bread to toast that many of us consume every day. For toasting bread the heaters within the toasters glow red and this can be cited as a fine example of quantum mechanics. The rod of the heating element gets hot and transmits the heat to the bread which gets toasted.
Transistors- this equipment is used to increase the magnitude of electricity in signals and power cables. A transistor is made up of different layers of silicon combined with other elements. This, in turn, combines in millions to form a computer chip. Quantum physics is employed widely in developing these computer chips which forms the base of all the smart devices we use today like Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and many others.
Global Positioning Systems or GPS- if quantum physics would not come into existence then wandering in unknown places would have been a very difficult task. The GPS receiver in a device fetches the signals from the clocks situated in various locations. This helps in locating any destination using the GPS system.
The distance between the destination and the current location of a traveler is estimated through the time guides provided by the satellites. The satellites are built with atomic clocks that help in calculating the distance and the time. These atomic clocks work on the theories of quantum mechanics.
Laser instrument- each and every laser instrument works on the principles of quantum mechanics. In a laser three elements are involved, they are fluorescence, thermal emission, and spontaneous emission. It is proved by the principles of quantum mechanics that when an electron is excited then it tends to jump to the level of higher energy. But it will again come back to its mean position after a point of time.
In this process of jumping to a higher energy level and jumping back to the lower energy level, light energy is emitted. Therefore it is the theories of quantum mechanics that initiate the laser rays in equipment.
Telecommunication medium- the introduction of fiber optics has made the process of telecommunication faster and uncomplicated. The fiber optics is the discovery that involves the vast implication of quantum mechanics.
There are many other forms of application of quantum mechanics in our lives. This part in physics has become an integral part of our lives with vast applications.
Mary Clooney, who has framed this article, is an online tutor who provides great assistance to her students. She has the highest educational degree of Ph.D. in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Clooney has completed her studies from Princeton University and is currently working as a professor in one of the reputed institutes of the United States. She helps her students with good study materials and also ensures that they have their basics correct.