Chapter 5. Relativistic Theory of the Electron

  1. Prof. Dr. Markus Reiher and
  2. Dr. Alexander Wolf

Published Online: 22 JUN 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9783527627486.ch5

Relativistic Quantum Chemistry: The Fundamental Theory of Molecular Science

Relativistic Quantum Chemistry: The Fundamental Theory of Molecular Science

How to Cite

Reiher, M. and Wolf, A. (2009) Relativistic Theory of the Electron, in Relativistic Quantum Chemistry: The Fundamental Theory of Molecular Science, Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim, Germany. doi: 10.1002/9783527627486.ch5

Author Information

  1. ETH Zuerich, Laboratory for Physical Chemistry, Hoenggerberg Campus, Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10, 8093 Zuerich, Switzerland

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 22 JUN 2009
  2. Published Print: 14 JAN 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9783527312924

Online ISBN: 9783527627486

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Keywords:

  • relativistic theory of electron;
  • correspondence principle;
  • Klein–Gordon equation;
  • free-electron;
  • Dirac equation;
  • Dirac electron;
  • external electromagnetic potentials;
  • negative-energy states

Summary

Having introduced the principles of special relativity in classical mechanics and electrodynamics as well as the foundations of quantum theory, we now discuss their unification in the relativistic, quantum mechanical description of the motion of a free electron. One might start right away with an appropriate ansatz for the basic equation of motion with arbitrary parameters to be chosen to fulfill boundary conditions posed by special relativity, which would lead us to the Dirac equation in standard notation. However, we proceed stepwise and derive the Klein–Gordon equation first so that the subsequent steps leading to Dirac's equation for a freely moving electron can be better understood.