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Rotating Gaussian wave packets in weak external potentials

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We address the time evolution of two- and three-dimensional nonrelativistic Gaussian wave packets in the presence of a weak external potential of arbitrary functional form. The focus of our study is the phenomenon of rotation of a Gaussian wave packet around its center of mass, as quantified by mean angular momentum computed relative to the wave-packet center. Using a semiclassical approximation of the eikonal type, we derive an explicit formula for a time-dependent change of mean angular momentum of a wave packet induced by its interaction with a weak external potential. As an example, we apply our analytical approach to the scenario of a two-dimensional quantum particle crossing a tilted ridge potential barrier. In particular, we demonstrate that the initial orientation of the particle wave packet determines the sense of its rotation, and report a good agreement between analytical and numerical results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number013617
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Review A
Volume96
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2017

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