Wigner phase space distribution via classical adiabatic switching

Amartya Bose, Nancy Makri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evaluation of the Wigner phase space density for systems of many degrees of freedom presents an extremely demanding task because of the oscillatory nature of the Fourier-type integral. We propose a simple and efficient, approximate procedure for generating the Wigner distribution that avoids the computational difficulties associated with the Wigner transform. Starting from a suitable zeroth-order Hamiltonian, for which the Wigner density is available (either analytically or numerically), the phase space distribution is propagated in time via classical trajectories, while the perturbation is gradually switched on. According to the classical adiabatic theorem, each trajectory maintains a constant action if the perturbation is switched on infinitely slowly. We show that the adiabatic switching procedure produces the exact Wigner density for harmonic oscillator eigenstates and also for eigenstates of anharmonic Hamiltonians within the Wentzel-Kramers-Brillouin (WKB) approximation. We generalize the approach to finite temperature by introducing a density rescaling factor that depends on the energy of each trajectory. Time-dependent properties are obtained simply by continuing the integration of each trajectory under the full target Hamiltonian. Further, by construction, the generated approximate Wigner distribution is invariant under classical propagation, and thus, thermodynamic properties are strictly preserved. Numerical tests on one-dimensional and dissipative systems indicate that the method produces results in very good agreement with those obtained by full quantum mechanical methods over a wide temperature range. The method is simple and efficient, as it requires no input besides the force fields required for classical trajectory integration, and is ideal for use in quasiclassical trajectory calculations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114114
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 21 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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