Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Physics Division

Physics Division Seminars

Physics Division Seminars bring us speakers on a variety of physics related subjects. Usually these are held in the Building 6008 large Conference Room, at 3:00 pm on the chosen day, but times and locations may vary. For more information, contact our seminar chairman,

Alfredo Galindo-Uribarri
Tel (Office): (865) 574-6124  (FAX): (865) 574-1268


Thu., September 04, 2003, at 3:00 p.m.

Quantum Tunneling in the Early Years of Quantum Mechanics - Dedicated to Subramanian Raman

Eugen Merzbacher, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Building 6008, Conference Room

In the first quarter of the Twentieth Century the discreteness of energy levels was the key feature that characterized the quantum theory in contrast to classical physics. The advent of wave mechanics almost immediately led to the insight that particles have a finite chance of being found in, and penetrating through, regions of space that are classically inaccessible to them. Starting in 1926, the "tunnel effect" was invoked for an understanding of dynamic processes in atomic, molecular, and condensed-matter systems. The explanation of field emission of electrons from cold metals is a prime example of quantum tunneling. The more familiar theory of radioactive nuclear alpha decay, by Gamow and by Gurney and Condon in 1928-1929, convinced almost everyone that quantum mechanics was indispensable to account for phenomena that defied all classical reasoning.

Refreshments at 2:40 p.m.