Quantum mechanics and the equivalence principle

P. C. W. Davies

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    36 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    A quantum particle moving in a gravitational field may penetrate the classically forbidden region of the gravitational potential. This raises the question of whether the time of flight of a quantum particle in a gravitational field might deviate systematically from that of a classical particle due to tunnelling delay, representing a violation of the weak equivalence principle. I investigate this using a model quantum clock to measure the time of flight of a quantum particle in a uniform gravitational field, and show that a violation of the equivalence principle does not occur when the measurement is made far from the turning point of the classical trajectory. The results are then confirmed using the so-called dwell time definition of quantum tunnelling. I conclude with some remarks about the strong equivalence principle in quantum mechanics.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2761-2772
    Number of pages12
    JournalClassical and Quantum Gravity
    Volume21
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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