Very short introduction to Partial-wave expansion of scattering wave function

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In a scattering problem, the main objective is solving the Schrödinger equation

H\psi=(K+V)\psi=E\psi

where H is the total Hamiltonian of the scattering system in the center of momentum, K is the kinetic energy and V is the potential energy. We seek for a solution \psi,

\displaystyle \psi_{k}^{+}(r)=e^{i\vec{k}\cdot \vec{r}}+f(\theta)\frac{e^{ikr}}{kr}

The solution can be decomposed

\displaystyle \psi_{k}^{+}(r)=R_{l}(k,r)Y_{lm}(\theta,\phi)=\frac{u_{l}(k,r)}{kr}Y_{lm}(\theta,\phi)

The solution of u_{l}(k,r) can be solve by Runge-Kutta method on the pdf

\displaystyle \left(\frac{d^2}{d\rho^2} + 1 - \frac{l(l+1)}{\rho^2} \right)u_{l}(k,\rho)=U(\rho)u_{l}(k,\rho)

where \rho=kr, k=\sqrt{2\mu E}/\hbar, \mu=(m_1+m_2)/(m_1 m_2) and U=V/E.


For U = 0, the solution of u_l is

\displaystyle u_{l}(k,r)=\hat{j}_l(\rho) \xrightarrow{r\rightarrow \infty} \sin(r') = \frac{e^{ir'}-e^{-ir'}}{2i}

where r' = kr-l\pi/2 and \hat{j}_l is the Riccati-Bessel function. The free wave function is

\displaystyle \phi_k(r)=e^{i\vec{k}\cdot\vec{r}}=\sum\limits_{l=0} P_l(\cos(\theta)) \frac{2l+1}{2ikr}i^l (e^{ir'}-e^{-ir'})

where P_l(x) is the Legendre polynomial.

Note that, if we have Coulomb potential, we need to use the Coulomb wave instead of free wave, because the range of coulomb force is infinity.


For U\neq 0, the solution of u_l(r<R) can be found by Runge-Kutta method, where R is a sufficiency large that the potential V is effectively equal to 0.  The solution of u_l(r>R) is shifted

\displaystyle u_{l}(k,r>R)=\hat{j}_l(\rho)+\beta_l \hat{n}_l(\rho) \xrightarrow{r\rightarrow \infty} \frac{1}{2i}(S_l e^{ir'}-e^{-ir'})

where S_l is the scattering matrix element, it is obtained by solving the boundary condition at r = R. The scattered wave function is

\displaystyle \psi_k(r)=\sum\limits_{l=0} P_l(\cos(\theta)) (2l+1) i^l \frac{u_l(r)}{kr}

put the scattered wave function and the free wave function back to the seeking solution, we have the f(\theta)

 \displaystyle f(\theta) = \sum\limits_{l=0} P_l(\cos(\theta)) \frac{2l+1}{2ik} (S_l - 1)

and the differential cross section

\displaystyle \frac{d\sigma}{d\Omega}=|f(\theta)|^2.


In this very brief introduction, we can see

  • How the scattering matrix S_l is obtained
  • How the scattering amplitude f(\theta) relates to the scattering matrix

But what is scattering matrix? Although the page did not explained very well, especially how to use it.

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Differential Cross Section

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In nuclear physics, cross section is a raw data from experiment. Or more precisely differential cross section, which is some angle of the cross section, coz we cannot measure every scatter angle and the differential cross section gives us more detail on how the scattering going on.

The differential cross section (d.s.c.) is the square of the scattering amplitude of the scatter spherical wave, which is the Fourier transform of the density.

d.s.c = |f(\theta)|^2 = Fourier ( \rho (r), \Delta p , r )

Where the angle θ come from the momentum change. So, sometime we will see the graph is plotted against momentum change instead of angle.

By measuring the yield of different angle. Yield is the intensity of scattered particle. We can plot a graph of the Form factor, and then find out the density of the nuclear or particle.

However, the density is not in usual meaning, it depends on what kind of particle we are using as detector. For example, if we use electron, which is carry elected charge, than it can feel the coulomb potential by the proton and it reflected on the “density”, so we can think it is kind of charge density.

Another cross section is the total cross section, which is sum over the d.s.c. in all angle. Thus, the plot always is against energy. This plot give us the spectrum of the particle, like excitation energy, different energy levels.