Action-angle variables in quantum mechanics

Stuart D. Augustin, Herschel Rabitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Conventional quantum mechanical treatments of many systems have worked with coordinates and momenta that are not canonically conjugate. In this work it is shown how the quantum expressions may be reformulated in terms of the canonical set of action-angle variables, and specific examples of the harmonic oscillator, linear rotor, and triaxial rotor are presented. When expressed in these terms, the quantum mechanics take on a form which can be directly related to analogous results from classical mechanics. In addition, it becomes possible to express the Hamiltonian in the minimum number of coordinates. It is also shown that the common assumption of an exponential form for the overlap of canonical coordinate and momentum eigenstates is false for an asymmetric rotor. This has important implications for the quantization rules applicable to nonseparable systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4956-4968
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of chemical physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1979

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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