Madelung transformation of the quantum bouncer problem

E. Heifetz*, I. Plochotnikov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The "quantum bouncer" problem of a quantum particle in a gravitational field, bouncing elastically from a horizontal surface, is mapped via the Madelung transformation into the dynamics of a 1D, compressible, inviscid fluid. Under this transformation the energy states of the quantum bouncer, given in terms of the Airy function, are hydrostatic equilibria states where gravity is balanced by the corresponding vertical pressure gradient force exerted by the fluid. The stability of the hydrostatic states, with respect to small perturbations, is expressed in terms of the positive definite pseudoenergy integral derived here. Pseudoenergy, which is a constant of motion of the linearized perturbation dynamics, is in this case the sum of the perturbation kinetic and available potential energies. The latter is found to be proportional to the square of the vertical derivative of the buoyancy perturbation rather than the square of the buoyancy itself, as is generally the case in classical fluids. For sinusoidal perturbations with vertical wavenumber k, the effective frequency of the buoyancy oscillation is found to be, which is twice the ratio between the gravitational force and the momentum of a free quantum particle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number10002
JournalJournal de Physique (Paris), Lettres
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2020


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