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Solution of the Schrödinger equation within the de Broglie–Bohm formulation is based on propagation of trajectories in the presence of a nonlocal quantum potential. We present a new strategy for defining approximate quantum potentials within a restricted trial function by performing the optimal fit to the log-derivatives of the wave function density. This procedure results in the energy-conserving dynamics for a closed system. For one particular form of the trial function leading to the linear quantum force, the optimization problem is solved analytically in terms of the first and second moments of the weighted trajectory distribution. This approach gives exact time-evolution of a correlated Gaussian wave function in a locally quadratic potential. The method is computationally cheap in many dimensions, conserves total energy and satisfies the criterion on the average quantum force. Expectation values are readily found by summing over trajectory weights. Efficient extraction of the phase-dependent quantities is discussed. We illustrate the efficiency and accuracy of the linear quantum force approximation by examining a one-dimensional scattering problem and by computing the wavepacket reaction probability for the hydrogen exchange reaction and the photodissociation spectrum of ICN in two dimensions.

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