## Probability Current Density for a free particle in Quantum Mechanics

1.) Derivation of Probability Current Density for a free particle:

Let a particle of mass $m$ is moving in the positive $x$- direction in the region from $x_{1}$ to $x_{2}$.

For the one-dimensional motion of the particle, the wave function is $psi(x,t)$ Let $dA$ be the area of the cross-section of the region.

The probability of finding a particle in the region is

$\int_{x_{1}}^{x_{2}} \psi(x,t) \: \psi^{*}(x,t) \: dx \: dA \qquad(1)$

and the probability density of finding the particle in the region is

$P=\psi(x,t) \: \psi^{*}(x,t) \qquad(2)$
If the probability of finding the particle in the region decreases with time, the rate of decrease of the probability that the particle is in the region from $x_{1}$ to $x_{2}$ per unit area is called the probability current density out of the region. Therefore, the probability current density $S_{2} - S_{1}$ out of the region in the positive $x$-direction is given by

$S_{2} - S_{1} = - \frac{1}{dA} \left[- \frac{d}{dt} \int_{x_{1}}^{x_{2}} P \: dx \: dA \right]$

$S_{2} - S_{1} = - \frac{\partial}{\partial t} \int_{x_{1}}^{x_{2}} P \: dx $

$S_{2} - S_{1} = - \frac{\partial}{\partial t} \int_{x_{1}}^{x_{2}} \psi(x,t) \: \psi^{*}(x,t) \: dx \qquad(3)$

And the probability of current density at position $x$ is

$S = - \frac{\partial}{\partial t} \int \psi(x,t) \: \psi^{*}(x,t) \: dx \qquad(4)$

1.1) Show that: $S = \frac{i \hbar}{2m} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} - \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*} }{\partial x} \right]$

Proof:

According to the Schrodinger equation for wave function $\psi(x,t)$ and $\psi^{*}(x,t)$ are

$i \hbar \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} =- \frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m} \frac{\partial^{2} \psi}{\partial x^{2}} + V \psi \qquad(1.1.1)$

The complex conjugate of the wave function

$-i \hbar \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial t} = -\frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m} \frac{\partial^{2} \psi^{*}}{\partial x^{2}} + V \psi^{*} \qquad(1.1.2)$

Multiplying equation $(1.1.1)$ by $\psi^{*}$ and equation $(1.1.2)$ by $\psi$, we get

$i \hbar \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} =- \frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m} \psi^{*} \frac{\partial^{2} \psi}{\partial x^{2}} + \psi^{*} V \psi \quad(1.1.3)$

$-i \hbar \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial t} = -\frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m} \psi \frac{\partial^{2} \psi^{*}}{\partial x^{2}} + \psi V \psi^{*} \quad(1.1.4)$

Now subtracting equation $(1.1.4)$ and equation $(1.1.3)$, we get

$i \hbar \left( \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial t} + \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial t} \right) =-\frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial^{2} \psi}{\partial x^{2}} - \psi \frac{\partial^{2} \psi^{*}}{\partial x^{2}} \right]$

$i \hbar \frac{\partial}{\partial t} \left( \psi \psi^{*} \right) =-\frac{\hbar^{2}}{2m} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} - \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} \right]$

$ \frac{\partial}{\partial t} \left( \psi \psi^{*} \right) =\frac{i\hbar}{2m} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} - \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} \right] \quad(1.1.5)$

We know that

$S = - \frac{\partial}{\partial t} \int \psi(x,t) \: \psi^{*}(x,t) \: dx $

Now substitute the value of equation $(9)$ in the above equation that can be written as

$ S = -\frac{i\hbar}{2m} \int \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} - \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} \right] dx $

$ S = -\frac{i\hbar}{2m} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} - \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} \right] $

1.2) Show That The probability current density for a free particle is equal to the product of its probability density and its speed.

Proof:

For a free particle that is moving in the positive $x$-axis direction and the momentum $p_{x}$ at position $x$ is given by

$\frac{\hbar}{i} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} = p_{x} \psi$

$ \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} = \frac{i}{\hbar} p_{x} \psi \qquad(1.2.1)$

and

$-\frac{\hbar}{i} \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} = p_{x} \psi^{*}$

$ \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} = - \frac{i}{\hbar} p_{x} \psi^{*} \qquad(1.2.2)$

We know that

$ S = -\frac{i\hbar}{2m} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{\partial \psi}{\partial x} - \psi \frac{\partial \psi^{*}}{\partial x} \right] $

Now substitute the value of equation $(1.2.1)$ and equation $(1.2.2)$ in the above equation, we get

$ S = -\frac{i\hbar}{2m} \left[ \psi^{*} \frac{i}{\hbar} p_{x} \psi + \psi \frac{i}{\hbar} p_{x} \psi^{*}\right] $

$ S = \frac{1}{2m} \left[ \psi^{*} p_{x} \psi + \psi p_{x} \psi^{*}\right] $

$ S = \frac{1}{m} \left( \psi \psi^{*} p_{x} \right)$

$ S = \frac{ p_{x} }{m} \left( \psi \psi^{*}\right) \qquad(1.2.3) $

Now put $p_{x}= m v_{x}$ in equation $(1.2.3)$

$ S = \frac{m v_{x} }{m} \left( \psi \psi^{*}\right)$

$ S = \left( \psi \psi^{*}\right) v_{x}$

Now put $p_{x}= \hbar k_{x}$ in equation $(1.2.3)$

$ S = \frac{ \hbar \: k_{x} }{m} \left( \psi \psi^{*}\right) $