Computational Study of Cold Ions Trapped in a Double-well Potential

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Taylor & Francis

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Molecular Physics

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We report a rigorous computational treatment of quantum dynamics of cold ions in a double-well trap using the time-dependent Schrödinger equation. Our method employs a numerically accurate approach that avoids approximations, such as assumption of weak coupling between the wells; normal mode nature of vibrations; or harmonic approximation for energy spectrum of the double-well system. Our goal is to reproduce, from first principles, the process of energy swaps between the wells observed in the experiments at NIST [Nature 471, 196 (2011)] and Innsbruck [Nature 471, 200 (2011)]. The model parameters and the initial conditions are carefully chosen to mimic experimental conditions. We obtain accurate energies and wave functions of the system numerically, and study the evolution of motional wave packets to provide new insight. This model reproduces experimental results obtained by NIST and Innsbruck in detail. We explain the energy transfer in terms of wave packet dynamics in the asymmetric potential energy well. We also show that, for a localised initial wave packet, this phenomenon can be interpreted using the terms of classical dynamics, such as trajectory of motion governed by the well-known simple principle: the angle of reflection equals the angle of incidence.


Molecular Physics, Vol. 117, No. 14 (April 2019): 1912-1925. DOI.