# Notes: Tensor Operators

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1 Notes: Tensor Operators Ben Baragiola I. VECTORS We are already familiar with the concept of a vector, but let s review vector properties to refresh ourselves. A -component Cartesian vector is v = v x e x + v y e y + v z e z. (1) Operationally, what makes this a vector is the way it transforms under rotations. General rotations can be specified by Euler angles, but for the sake of simplicity we will consider a rotation by θ around the z-axis, which is represented in the Cartesian basis by the matrix cos θ sin θ 0 R z (θ) = sin θ cos θ 0. () We use this matrix to rotate v into a the new, rotated vector denoted by v = v xe x + v ye y + v ze z. We will use the explicit for of the rotation matrix to write the elements of v in terms of those of v and the angle θ. cos θ sin θ 0 v = R z (θ)v = sin θ cos θ 0 = cos θv x + sin θv y sin θv x + cos θv y =. () v z v x v y v z By definition, the components of a vector transform like v x v y v z v i = j R ij v j. (4) Let s verify that according to this definition our v is a vector: v x = j R xj v j = R xx v x + R xy v y + R xz v z () = cos θv x + sin θv y (6) and one can similarly check the other components to verify that indeed v is a vector. In quantum mechanics, the rotation operator is D(n, θ) = e iĵ nθ (7) where n is the unit vector about which the rotation occurs, and Ĵ is the angular momentum vector operator, which has operator components that transform according to Eq. (4). A vector operator ˆV is rotated in the following way D(n, θ) ˆVD(n, θ) = R ij ˆVj (8) To evaluate this, we make use of a property of vector operators and the Hadamard lemma j [ ˆV i, Ĵi] = iɛ ijk ˆV k (9) e X Y e X = Y + [X, Y ] + 1 [X, [X, Y ]] +... (10)! Writing out a couple terms in the series for the instructive case of n Ĵ = Ĵz, we recognize quickly that with similar, expected transformations for the other components of ˆV. e iĵzθ ˆVx e iĵzθ = cos θ ˆV x + sin θv y (11)

2 II. TENSORS Classically, tensors are defined by the way they transform under rotations. We are primarily concerned with tensors of rank 0 (scalars), rank 1 (vectors), and of rank and we will restrict the discussion to this subset. Scalars do not transform under rotations, vectors transform according to Eq. (4), and rank tensors transform according to T ij = R ii R jj T i j. (1) i j Rank tensors have two sets of indices each which runs from 1 to, so there are nine components. For this reason, they are often represented as matrices. Given a rank tensor T, let s compute an element of a rotated tensor T where the rotation matrix is around the z-axis as above. T xx = i j R xi R xj T i j (1) =R xx R xx T xx + R xx R xy T xy + R xx R xz T xz + R xy R xx T yx + R xy R xy T yy + R xy R xz T yz + R xz R xx T zx + R xz R xy T zy + R xz R xz T zz Clearly, calculating all 9 elements would be exhaustive but exhausting. = cos θt xx + cos θ sin θ(t xy + T yx ) + sin T yy (14) A. Cartesian Tensors Two vectors, v and w, expressed in the Cartesian basis (e x, e y, e z ) can be used to create a rank Cartesian tensor T. It is formed as the dyad of the two vectors T ij v i w j (1) and can be expressed as a matrix T = v xw x v x w y v x w z v y w x v y w y v y w z. (16) v z w x v z w y v z w z Dyadic Cartesian tensors, such as T, can be decomposed into irreducible representations in the following way T ij = ij + ij + T () = ij (17) ( vi w j + v j w i v w ) δ ij. (18) (v w) δ ij + (v iw j v j w i ) + Each of these irreducible representations has particular properties. is a rank 0 tensor and transforms under rotations like a scalar. In our matrix representation, it can also be written as the trace of the full, reducible tensor T = 1 Tr(T ) 1 = 1 v w v w v w (19) where v w = v x w x + v y w y + v z w z. has only one independent component. is a rank 1 tensor and transforms under rotations like a vector. It can be represented as a vector (cross) product ij = 1 ɛ ijk(v w) k and has a matrix representation = 1 0 (v x w y v y w x ) (v x w z v z w x ) (v x w y v y w x ) 0 (v y w z v z w y ). (0) (v x w z v z w x ) (v y w z v z w y ) 0

3 has three independent components. T () is a rank tensor and transforms according to Eq. (1). It has the following form in our matrix representation T () = v x w x v w (v xw y+v yw x) (vxwy+vywx) v y w y v w (v xw z+v zw x) (v yw z+v zw y) (vxwz+vzwx) (vywz+vzwy) v z w z v w. (1) Due to the fact that they are antisymmetric and traceless, Tr(T () ) = 0, irreducible rank tensors have independent entries. Notice that the number of independent components of T is equal to the number of independent components of + + T () : = In addition, each of the irreducible representations transforms like angular momentum according to its number of independent components. B. Spherical Tensors The fact that Cartesian tensors are reducible prompts us to seek out an irreducible set of tensors. A useful set of these are the spherical tensors. 1. Spherical Basis Spherical tensors are defined on a set of basis vectors defined as follows e ± = (e x + ie y ), e 0 = e z. () and we use the letter q to designate an arbitrary spherical basis element. The fact that these are complex will lead to some definitions that may seem strange at first, but arise only to maintain the familiar properties of Cartesian space. The components of a vector A in the spherical basis are so that A may be decomposed in the spherical basis as A q = e q A () A = q A q e q = q ( 1) q A q e q = A + e + + A 0 e 0 + A e. (4) The dot product of two vectors has a form that seems unfamiliar, but preserves the norm of a vector A : A B = A + B + A 0 B 0 A B + = q ( 1) q A q B q (). Spherical Harmonics An example of irreducible spherical tensors that will prove quite useful are the spherical harmonics. Recalling the definition of spherical harmonics as the angular representation of the l, m angular momentum eigenstates: Y m l (θ, φ) = θ, φ l, m = (l + 1)(l m)! Pl m (cos θ)e imφ (6) (l + m)! Spherical harmonics are irreducible and transform like tensors of rank k=l, where m indexes the number of unique elements.

4 4 C. Formal Definition of Spherical Tensor Operators Motivated by the above discussion, we define a spherical tensor operator of rank k as a set of k+1 operators ˆT (k) q q = k, k 1... k + 1, k (7) which transform among themselves like j+1 angular momentum eigenstates j = k, m = q (and thus like spherical harmonics) according to where D(n, θ) ˆT (k) q D(n, θ) = k q = k D (k) (k) q,q (θ)t q (8) D (k) q,q (θ) = k, q e in ˆ J k k, q. (9) Now, we are prepared to represent a dyad formed from two vectors v and w (written in the spherical basis) in terms of irreducible spherical tensors: 0 = v w = 1 (v 1w 1 + v 0 w 0 + v 1 w 1 ) (0) q = (v w) q i T () ± = v ±1w ±1 () T () ±1 = 1 (v ±1 w 0 + v 0 w ±1 ) () (1) T () 0 = 1 6 (v 1 w 1 + v 0 w 0 + v 1 w 1 ) (4) D. Wigner Eckhart Theorem Given a spherical tensor operator T q (k), the Wigner-Eckhart theorem states: α ; j, m T q (k) α; j, m = α ; j T q (k) α; j j m kq; jm. () Essentially, the theorem says that it is possible to factor the matrix element into a reduced matrix element which is independent of m (and thus of any specific geometry) and a Clebsch-Gordan coefficient. The CG coefficients determine the selection rules m = m + q and j k j j + k. (6) III. THE DIPOLE OPERATOR The motivation for the previous sections has been to arrive at a place where we are prepared to discuss the dipole operator ˆd which shows up in the dipole Hamiltonian for the interaction between an atom and an electric field. H AF = ˆd E (7) The dipole operator is related to the position operator ˆr through the charge of the electron: ˆd = eˆr. (8)

5 we write down those corresponding to l = {0, 1, } as they are irreducible representations of corresponding rank: Now, we see that the position vector Y0 0 = 1 (9) Y1 0 = cos θ (40) Y 1 ±1 = 8π sin θe±iφ (41) Y 0 = 16π ( cos 1) (4) Y ±1 = 16π sin θ cos θe±iφ (4) Y ± = π sin θe ±iφ. (44) can be written in the spherical basis (and thus as spherical harmonics): r = r x e x + r y e y + r z e z (4) = r sin θ cos φe x + r sin θ sin φe y + r cos θe z (46) r = r sin θe iφ e + + r cos θe 0 + r sin θe iφ e (47) with individual components = r (Y 1 1 e + + Y1 0 e 0 + Y1 1 e ) (48) r q = r Y q 1. (49)

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