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$\left( \frac{1}{2m}(\vec \sigma ( \vec p - q\vec A))^2 + q\phi \right) \Psi = i \hbar \partial_t \Psi $

Pauli Equation


The Pauli equation describes how the state of a quantum system with half-integer spin changes in time.

In contrast, the Schrödinger equation describes the time evolution of systems without spin.


The Pauli equation is the non-relativistic limit of the Dirac equation.


  • Nonrelativistic particles and wave equations by Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond

Why is it interesting?

The Pauli equation is the correct non-relativistic equation to describe spin $1/2$ particles.


  • $\Psi$ is the wave function,
  • $m$ the mass of the particle,
  • $q$ the charge of the particle,
  • $\vec{\sigma}$ the Pauli matrices,
  • $\vec{p}$ the momentum,
  • $\vec A$ the vector potential,
  • $\phi$ the electric scalar potential and
  • $\hbar$ the reduced Planck constant.

Take note that $\vec \sigma$, a "vector of matrices" is only used as a convenient short-hand notation for the sums that appear in the equation. For example, $\vec \sigma \vec p = \sigma_1 p_1 + \sigma_2 p_2 + \sigma_3 p_3. $

equations/pauli_equation.txt · Last modified: 2018/04/16 07:09 by jakobadmin