Many-body theory for systems with particle conversion: Extending the multiconfigurational time-dependent Hartree method

Ofir E. Alon, Alexej I. Streltsov, Lorenz S. Cederbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We derive a multiconfigurational time-dependent Hartree theory for systems with particle conversion. In such systems particles of one kind can convert to another kind and the total number of particles varies in time. The theory thus extends the scope of the available and successful multiconfigurational time-dependent Hartree methodsâ€"which were solely formulated for and applied to systems with a fixed number of particlesâ€"to a broader class of physical systems and problems. As a guiding example we treat explicitly a system where bosonic atoms can combine to form bosonic molecules and vice versa. In the theory for particle conversion, the time-dependent many-particle wave function is written as a sum of configurations made of a different number of particles, and assembled from sets of atomic and molecular orbitals. Both the expansion coefficients and the orbitals forming the configurations are time-dependent quantities that are fully determined according to the Dirac-Frenkel time-dependent variational principle. By employing the Lagrangian formulation of the Dirac-Frenkel variational principle we arrive at two sets of coupled equations of motion, one for the atomic and molecular orbitals and one for the expansion coefficients. The first set is comprised of first-order differential equations in time and nonlinear integrodifferential equations in position space, whereas the second set consists of first-order differential equations with coefficients forming a time-dependent Hermitian matrix. Particular attention is paid to the reduced density matrices of the many-particle wave function that appear in the theory and enter the equations of motion. There are two kinds of reduced density matrices: particle-conserving reduced density matrices which directly only couple configurations with the same number of atoms and molecules, and particle nonconserving reduced density matrices which couple configurations with a different number of atoms and molecules. Closed-form and compact equations of motion are derived for contact as well as general two-body interactions, and their properties are analyzed and discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number022503
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2 Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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