Singular potentials in quantum mechanics and ambiguity in the self-adjoint Hamiltonian

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For a class of singular potentials, including the Coulomb potential (in three and less dimensions) and V (x) = g/x2with the coefficient g in a certain range (x being a space coordinate in one or more dimensions), the corresponding Schrödinger operator is not automatically self-adjoint on its natural domain. Such operators admit more than one self-adjoint domain, and the spectrum and all physical consequences depend seriously on the self-adjoint version chosen. The article discusses how the self-adjoint domains can be identified in terms of a boundary condition for the asymptotic behaviour of the wave functions around the singularity, and what physical differences emerge for different selfadjoint versions of the Hamiltonian. The paper reviews and interprets known results, with the intention to provide a practical guide for all those interested in how to approach these ambiguous situations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107
JournalSymmetry, Integrability and Geometry: Methods and Applications (SIGMA)
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2007



  • Boundary condition
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Self-adjointness
  • Singular potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analysis
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Geometry and Topology

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