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Jose Lopez-Cervantes
Centro de Investigacion en Fisica
Universidad de Sonora,
Apartado Postal A-88 83190 Hermosillo, Sonora, Mwxico

Short title: Energy-momentum tensor

PAC. 03.65.Ca- Quantum theory; quantum mechanics. Formalism

We consider the Schrodinger equation as a field equation and work in the
frame of canonical Field Theory. One can therefore introduce a Lagrangian
density and define an associated energy- momentum tensor. The components
of this tensor coincide with the usual definitions of energy, linear and angular
momentum, and stresses, associated to a quantum mechanical system.
We deduce: a Newton-type equation for the momentum density; and the usual
expression for the momentum operator, with no heuristic rules. We consider
the wave function as a field variable associated with a physical reality,not with
a probability amplitude, and interpret the Schrodinger wave equation as the
sum of two physical energy densities: kinetic plus potential.
I. Introduction
Is well known the importance of the Principle of Least Action in Physics [1,2]
and the fact that the Schrodinger equation could be derived from a variational
Principle[3], however, the last point is not discussed in the most of the textbooks
on Quantum mechanics. It is the purpose of this paper, to make emphasis that
Quantum Mechanics is a Field Theory, with the Schrodinger equation as the field
equation. The field variable is the wavefunction Ψ(r,t). By the canonical method
of Field Theory, we can construct a lagrangian density from which, by applying
the Euler-Lagrange equation one gets the Schrodinger equation. Then one can
calculate the energy-momentum tensor, which carries information on the
following physical densities: energy, linear momentum, stresses of the
field, flux of energy. In section II, we calculate this tensor and show its
correspondence with know physical quantities. In section III, we calculate
the physical stresses of the Hydrogen atom which according to Brillouin [4],
they had not been calculated yet, because of the lack of direct observability of
this field. (by the quantum field Ψ, we mean the field representing the wave
nature of matter, not a second-quantized field) We thought that the analysis of
this stresses could been helpful in a more deep physical understanding of the
yet mysterious atomic transitions [5]. Some authors [6] have stressed the conti-
nuity of this transitions versus the discontinous image, using the usual formalism
of Quantum Mechanics. In section V, we calculate the force and angular-
momentum densities, and derive an Newton-type equation for the momentum
density of the field : the time derivative of the momentum density is equal to the
force density. We stress the physical advantages of studying physical densities
over the abstract operator approach in having a intuitive image of atomic and
sub-atomic process. Hestenes stress this point for the case of Relativistic Quantum
Mechanics [7]. We note a contradiction in the probabilistic interpretation
of Q M: which is the probability operator which corresponds to the probability of a
physical event?, if the probability density is an observable, it should have an asso-
ciated operator. In this formalism, the “quantum potential“ of Bohm [8], which is
derived in a semiclassical limit, from the kinetic energy density,is not strictly a po-
tential,but a kinetic term coming from the variation of the amplitude of the WKB
wavefunction with the coordinates : Ψr = A(r)exp(iS(r)/h).

II. The Lagrangian of the Schrodinger equation and its Energy-Momentum

Let us start by considering the Schrodinger equation for a particle in a potential
in certain coordinates:
– ℏ ∇ 2 ψ + V(r) ψ = = ih ∂ Ψ ,
2m ∂t
which, by convenience we rewrite as

– ℏ Ψ + V(r) Ψ - ih ∂ Ψ = 0 .
2m ∂t
The left-hand side of this equation can be considered as the
field equation obtained by minimising the Lagrangian [3]

L = – ℏ (∇ Ψ ∗ )⋅(∇Ψ) - ℏ (Ψ ∗ ∂ Ψ - Ψ ∂ Ψ ∗ ) - Ψ V(r) Ψ (2)

2m 2i ∂t ∂t
where, for brevity of notation, we write: ψ α = ∂o = ∂ (3)
∂x α ∂t
This Lagrangian density is obtained directly from the
Schrödinger equation (1b) multiplying it from the left by Ψ ∗ and integrating
by parts the first term.
The canonical energy-momentum tensor is defined as [3]
T αβ = Ψ β D α L + Ψ ∗β D ∗α L - δ αβ L (4)

where we have used the notation: D α = ∂ . Its components are :

∂ψ α
T oo = s (∇Ψ ∗ ⋅ ∇Ψ ) + Ψ ∗ V(r) Ψ = H (5a)

T oi = ℏ (Ψ∂ i Ψ ∗ – Ψ ∗ ∂ i Ψ ) (5b)
T io = - s δ ij [∂ o ψ ∂ j ψ ∗ + ∂ o ψ ∗ ∂ j ψ ] (5c)
T ij = - s δ i k [∂ k ψ ∗ ∂ j ψ+ cc ] – δ ij L (5d)
The components of the energy-momentum tensor are easily interpreted as
follows: as usual, T oo is the energy density of the field; T oi is the
“probability“ current density, usually denoted by: S i [9]
T io is the momentum density vector, written as: P i ;
T ij are the physical stresses of the quantum field ψ.
Another relevant quantity is the angular momentum density
M αβγ = T αβ x γ – T αγ x β . (6)
The scalar quantities associated to the previous densities are: the energy

E = ∫T oo d 3 x = [s (∇ψ ∗ ⋅ ∇ψ) + ψ ∗ V(r) ψ] d 3 x (7a)

the linear momentum

p i = ∫T oi d 3 x = ∫[ ℏ (ψ∂ i ψ ∗ –ψ ∗ ∂ i ψ)] d 3 x (7b)
the Poynting vector, representing the flux of energy

∫T io d 3 x = ∫- s δ ij [∂ o ψ ∂ j ψ ∗ + ∂ o ψ ∗ ∂ j ψ ] d 3 x
and the physical stresses

∫T ij d 3 x = ∫−s δ i k [∂ k ψ ∗ ∂ j ψ+ cc ] – δ ij L}d 3 x (7d)

Associated with equation(6), one has the angular momentum

M i j = – (½)iℏ ∫{δ i k (ψ ∂ k ψ ∗ – cc )x j – δ jk (ψ ∂ k ψ ∗ – cc )x i }d 3 x (8)

One inmediately sees from eq. (7a), that the

terms in the integral can be interpreted as kinetic and potential energy
densities. This reflects over the Schrodinger wave equation where the first
term is associated to the kinetic energy while the second one is associated
to the potential energy.
This agrees with the interpretation of the Hamilton-Jacobi
equation as a sum of kinetic and potential energies. Let us note that the
momentum operator is deduced without heuristic rules as is seen in equation
III. The Energy-Momentum Tensor for the Hydrogen Atom
In spherical coordinates, the spatial part of the Lagrangian is
L =- s [∂ r ψ ∗ ∂ r ψ + ( 12  (∂ θ ψ ∗ ∂ θ ψ + sin 2 θ ∂ ϕ ψ ∗ ∂ ϕ ψ+ er ψ ∗ ψ (9)
In these coordinates, the components of the energy-momentum tensor are
T r θ = s ∂ r ψ∂ θ ψ ∗ (10a)

T θ ϕ = s ∂ θ ψ∂ ϕ ψ ∗ (10b)

T r ϕ = s ∂ r ψ∂ ϕ ψ ∗ (10c)

T r r = s ∂ r ψ∂ r ψ ∗ - L(ψ,∇ψ) (10d)

T t r = - i ℏ ψ ∗ ∂ r ψ (10e)
For states having zero angular momentum,(l =0) the wave function ψ
does not depend on angles, therefore, these states have no physical
stresses. (except the rr-component) As an example, let us calculate the
stresses for the (n,l,m)=(2,1,1) and (2,1,0) states: the wave functions are:
ψ 211 = R 21 (r)Y 11 (θ, ϕ)=(1/2a) 3/2 (r/a 3 )exp(–r/2a)[-(3/8π) sinθ exp(iϕ ] (11)
Ψ 210 = R 21 (r)Y 10 (θ, ϕ)=(1/2a ) 3/2 (r/a 3 )exp(–r/2a)[(3/4π 1/2 cosθ] (12)
so, the components of the tensor are:

T rθ [ψ 211 ] = s ∂ r (R 21 Y 11 ) ∂ θ (R 21 Y 11 ) (13)

T θφ [ψ 211 ] = s ∂ θ (R 21 Y 11 ) ∂ φ (R 21 Y 11 ) (14)
T rr [ψ 211 ] = s ∂ r (R 21 Y 11 ) ∂ r R 21 Y ∗11  – L [ψ 211 ] (15)
as in fluid mechanics, T r r gives the radial stresses: dilatation and compression.

In cartesian coordinates, the stresses of the Hydrogen atom are:

(applying the chain-rule to calculate partial derivatives in Cartesian coordinates
and using the matrix of transformation of the diferentials from Cartesian to
spherical coordinates).The derivatives of wavefunctions are:
∂ r R 21 = (A 21 /a√3 )(1– r/2a) exp(– r/2a) (16)
∂ θ Y 11 = b cos θ exp(iφ (17)
∂ θ Y 10 = – f sin θ (18)
where the constants are (a is the Bohr radius)
b = – (3/8π) 1/2 , f = (3/4π) 1/2 , A 21 =(1/2a) 3/2 (19)
by the chain-rule the partial derivative with respect to x, are
1 sin φ
∂ x ψ = sinθ cosφ ∂ r ψ + cos θ cosφ ∂ θ ψ − ∂ ψ
r r sin θ φ
1 cos φ
∂ y ψ = sinθ sinφ ∂ r ψ + cos θ sinφ ∂ θ ψ + ∂ ψ
r r sin θ φ
∂ z ψ = cosθ ∂ r ψ − 1 sin θ ∂ θ ψ
substituying for the state (211), we obtain :
∂ x ψ 211 = sinθ cos φ Y 11 (A 21 /a√3) (1– r/2a) exp(-r/2a)
sin φ
+ (1/r)cosθ cos φ R 21 b cos θ exp(iφ − i/r R 21 b sin θ expiφ
sin θ
#for the Ψ 210 state we have:
d j = sin\’e cos\’i d j + (1/r) cos\’e cos\’i d j
= sin\’e cos\’i (A\’y1/a r3) (1-r/2a) e
- (1/r) cos\’e b cos\’i R sin \’e
and similar expressions for the y and z components
IV. A Newton-type equation for the Field Densities
We calculate the time derivative of the momentum density :
∂ t P = ∂ t ( ψ ∗ P ψ) = -(i/h)ψ ∗ (P H– H P)ψ (20)
as the commutator is, for the momentum and the Hamiltonian:
[P,H] = [P,V(r)] = -ih ∇ V(r)
∂ t P = ψ ∗ (–∇V) ψ = ψ ∗ F ψ (21)
the last term of eq.(21) is the force density, which is equal to the time derivative
of the momentum density, thus we get a Newton-like equation: the time derivative
of the momentum density is equal to the force density And of course, an
abstract commutator is equivalent to a partial derivative of a local density
associated with an operator,in the previous case, the momentum operator.
In this density formulation, the problem of the time operator [10] it has
not physical sense, since a density of time does not exist.
# The angular momentum density is defined as L = r × P
its components are, for example:
L x = – ih ψ ∗ (y ∂ z – z ∂ y ) ψ (22)
and analogous expressions for the y and z components.
#V. Stresses for the atomic transitions
VI. Physical Justification of the Lagrangian Density
¿# In a paper [11], the author writes that: “this approach (the Lagrangian
method) is unsatisfying since the Lagrangian in use has no physical
justification other than it gives the right answer to this problem...“ This
is not exact, historically, as Schrodinger himself wrote the Lagrangian
density from the point-particle Lagrangian, then he applied the variational
Euler-Lagrange method to obtain his equation [6].
We justify the Lagrangian following the original method that Schrodinger
employed :
Take the classical Lagrangian for a point-particle
∘ p2
L = pq- H = m – H (23)
substitute: p = ∇S, and S = -ih log ψ
2 ∇ψ 2
L=− ℏ - V(r) (24)
2m ψ 2
multiply it by ψ 2 k=ℏ/i

L ψ2 = ℏ (∇ψ) 2 - V(r) ψ 2 (25)

If the wave function is normalized, ∫ ψ 2 d 3 x = 1,

then ψ 2 has units of [length] −3 , giving to Lψ 2 , units of

energy/volume: (density of energy) and it has the form of the Lagrangian
density (4), without the time dependent terms.
VII. Conclusions
# Clearly, a possible future detection of the stresses, would be a
experimental confirmation of the physical reality of the ψ, against the
probabilistic interpretation. electronic microscope
We stressed the advantages of the continuous field formulation of quantum
mechanics based on the least action principle over the formal operator and
heuristic approach. Details to be studied further would be: the stresses of
electron waves in conductors and superconductors; a relation between the
microscopical and the macroscopical stresses (of a solid, for example).
Explain the “exchange“ forces due to the anti symmetry of the wavefunction j
in terms of the quantum stresses. To study the Gauge theories in the Higgs
sector (without the second-quantified formalism) in order to visualize in a
co ntinuous way the “spontaneous symmetry breaking“ will be worked in other
paper. Also we can think of potentials for which the quantum stresses turn
to be observable
To understand the process of photon emission (absorption) it could help to
study the time development of the stresses in the two sectors: that of the
quantum field of the atom (nucleus-electrons) and of the photons
(electromagnetic field), and of course, if the electron it has an structure
one would have to write an energy-momentum tensor for such structure: the
proper field of the electron, and visualize the continuous process of the
absorption (emission) of the electromagnetic waves into the
electron’s structure. And to explain the Poincare’s stresses from it.
At this point one remembers the model of Broglie: the electron is made of
electromagnetic waves trapped in closed paths [12].
We speculate that, a microscopic level the energies of the quantum fields do
cause curvature of space, that is, the stress tensor for the relativities,
Diary case, must be included in the Einstein field equations R αβ = k T αβ [ψ]
If one hydrogen atom cause a negligible curvature, the 10^N hydrogen atoms of
a star like our sun, will cause an appreciable curvature. For consistency,
the macroscopic energy-stress tensor of a star, must be the total sum of all
microscopic energy tensors -atomic and nuclear-.
The author wishes to thank to Dr. Victor Tapia for a critical reading of the
manuscript and for his encouragement.
[1] R.P. Feynman, R.B. Leighton, M. Sands, The Feynman Lectures in
Physics, vol.II (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Massachusetts) p.19-1.
[2] Landau,L.D., E.M. Lifshitz, Mechanics, (Addison-Wesley, Reading,
Massachusetts, 1966).
P.M. Morse, H. Feshbach, Methods of Theoretical Physics
(McGraw-Hill, New York, 1953). part I
[3] H.Goldstein, Classical Mechanics (Addison-Wesley, Reading Massachusetts,
[4] L. Brillouin, La Informacion y la Incertidumbre en la Ciencia, (UNAM,
Mexico, 1969), p.119.
[5] see, for example, R. Kidd, J. Ardini, A. Anton, Am.J.Phys. 57, 27(1989).
[6] E. Schrodinger, Phys. Rev. 28, 1049 (1926), Collected Papers on
Quantum mechanics (Chelsea Publ. Co., New York, 1978).
[7] D. Hesteness, Am.J. Phys. 39, 1028 (1971); J. Math. Phys. 14, 893(1973).
[8] see, for example, Max Jammer, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics,
(Wiley-Interscience, New York, 1974), p.278 ff
[9] H.C.Corben, P.Stehle, Classical Mechanics (Wiley, New York, 1964) p.275
[10] M. Razavy, Am. J. Phys. 35, 955 (1967)
[11] B.Roy Frieden, Am. J. Phys. 57, 1004 (1989)
[12] B. Kivel, Bulletin APS II, 8, 18 (1963)