Introduction to Quantum Mechanics

Discover the quantum nature of electrons including their wave nature, tunneling abilities, and their bound and excited states.

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On OS X 10.9 or newer, you will need to install a launcher application to run this Java activity. If you have not already installed it, please:

  • Download the launcher installer
  • Open the downloaded .dmg file and drag the CCLauncher application to your Applications folder
  • Return to this page and launch the resource

The microscopic world is full of phenomena very different from what we see in everyday life. Some of those phenomena can only be explained using quantum mechanics. This activity introduces basic quantum mechanics concepts about electrons that are essential to understanding modern and future technology, especially nanotechnology. Start by exploring probability distribution, then discover the behavior of electrons with a series of simulations.

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AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008)

4. The Physical Setting

4D. The Structure of Matter
  • 4D/H1*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that atoms are made of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The nucleus is a tiny fraction of the volume of an atom but makes up almost all of its mass. The nucleus is composed of protons and neutrons which have roughly the same mass but differ in that protons are positively charged while neutrons have no electric charge.
  • 4D/H2*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the number of protons in the nucleus determines what an atom's electron configuration can be and so defines the element. An atom's electron configuration, particularly the outermost electrons, determines how the atom can interact with other atoms. Atoms form bonds to other atoms by transferring or sharing electrons.
4E. Energy Transformations
  • 4E/H5*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that when energy of an isolated atom or molecule changes, it does so in a definite jump from one value to another, with no possible values in between. The change in energy occurs when light is absorbed or emitted, so the light also has distinct energy values. The light emitted or absorbed by separate atoms or molecules (as in a gas) can be used to identify what the substance is.
4F. Motion
  • 4F/H6ab. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that waves can superpose on one another, bend around corners, reflect off surfaces, be absorbed by materials they enter, and change direction when entering a new material. All these effects vary with wavelength.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 4G/H2a*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that electric forces acting within and between atoms are vastly stronger than the gravitational forces acting between the atoms. At larger scales, gravitational forces accumulate to produce a large and noticeable effect, whereas electric forces tend to cancel each other out.
  • 4G/H2b*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that at the atomic level, electric forces between electrons and protons in atoms hold molecules together and thus are involved in all chemical reactions.
  • 4G/H3*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that most materials have equal numbers of protons and electrons and are therefore electrically neutral. In most cases, a material acquires a negative charge by gaining electrons and acquires a positive charge by losing electrons. Even a tiny imbalance in the number of protons and electrons in an object can produce noticeable electric forces on other objects.
  • 4G/H6*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the nuclear forces that hold the protons and neutrons in the nucleus of an atom together are much stronger than the electric forces between the protons and electrons of the atom. That is why much greater amounts of energy are released from nuclear reactions than from chemical reactions.
  • 4G/H8** (BSL). By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the motion of electrons is far more affected by electrical forces than protons are because electrons are much less massive and are outside of the nucleus.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 11B/M1*. By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 11B/M4** (BSL). By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 11B/H3*. By the end of the 12th grade, students should know that the usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions to actual observations in the real world. But a close match does not necessarily mean that other models would not work equally well or better.

Copyright
© Copyright The Concord Consortium

Record Link
<a href="">The Concord Consortium. Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. Concord: The Concord Consortium, 2011, September 21.</a>

AIP
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2011, September 21), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

AJP
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (The Concord Consortium, Concord, 2011, September 21), WWW Document, (https://concord.org/).

APA
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics. (2011, September 21). Retrieved 2017, June 27, from The Concord Consortium: https://concord.org/

Disclaimer: The Concord Consortium offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure.

Requirements

This activity requires the Java Runtime Environment version 5 (sometimes referred to as 1.5) or later with Java Webstart. You can download it at java.com.

On OS X 10.9 or newer, you will need to install a launcher application to run this Java activity. If you have not already installed it, please:

  • Download the launcher installer
  • Open the downloaded .dmg file and drag the CCLauncher application to your Applications folder
  • Return to this page and launch the resource

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Electron TechnologiesThis resource is a part of the Concord Consortium's Electron Technologies project.

Grade Level
High School, Higher Education
Subject
Physics
Focus Area
Modeling and Simulation
Rating
0
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