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Quantum mechanical streamlines. IV. Collision of two spheres with square potential wells or barriers

### Abstract

Quantum mechanical streamlines and probability density contours help in the understanding of collision dynamics by showing what happens *d* *u* *r* *i* *n* *g* the collision. This is illustrated by considering the elasticscattering of two particles which interact with a spherically symmetric square potential, *V* (*r*) =0 when *r*≳*a* and *V* (*r*) =*C* when *r*<*a*, where the constant *C* is negative for a potential well and positive for a barrier. The streamlines and density contours completely determine the wavefunction (which is separable in *r* and ϑ and independent of φ) since the pre‐exponential factor is the square root of the density and the phase is everywhere perpendicular to the streamlines. The streamlines often form quantized vortices surrounding wavefunctionnodes. Since the nodal regions are circular rings, the vortices are toroidal (like smoke rings). If one or both of the particles is charged, the vortex ring corresponds to a collisional magnetic moment. The distortion of the streamlines provides a visual explanation of the large collision cross sections. In *S*‐wave resonances 4π*r* ^{2}=σ_{0}, where *r* is the distance from the origin to the center of the outermost vortex and σ_{0} is the cross section of the *S*‐wave component. Thus, *r* is essentially the ’’scattering length.’’ In *P*‐wave resonances (where again *r* is the radial distance to the outermost vortex), 1.85π*r* ^{2}?σ_{1} and in *D*‐wave resonances, 1.45π*r* ^{2}?σ_{2}. In the square well resonances, the density inside of the interaction sphere has the shape of the dominant wave and often has maxima hundreds to thousands of times greater than the density of the incident wave. By happenstance, whenever the potential well has the proper depth to form a newly bound *D* state, there is a Ramsauer–Townsend effect so that (for small energy of the incident wave) the total scattering cross section is very small;outside the interaction zone, the streamlines are only slightly deflected by the potential well;inside, the streamlines are deflected towards the symmetry axis and the probability density is concentrated near this axis

© 1976 American Institute of Physics

Published online 28 August 2008

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2008-08-28

2016-08-28

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