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The **Klein–Gordon equation** (**Klein–Fock–Gordon equation** or sometimes **Klein–Gordon–Fock equation**) is a relativistic wave equation, related to the Schrödinger equation. It is second-order in space and time and manifestly Lorentz-covariant. It is a quantized version of the relativistic energy–momentum relation. Its solutions include a quantum scalar or pseudoscalar field, a field whose quanta are spinless particles. Its theoretical relevance is similar to that of the Dirac equation.^{ [1] } Electromagnetic interactions can be incorporated, forming the topic of scalar electrodynamics, but because common spinless particles like the pions are unstable and also experience the strong interaction (with unknown interaction term in the Hamiltonian,^{ [2] }) the practical utility is limited.

- Statement
- History
- Derivation
- Klein–Gordon equation in a potential
- Conserved current
- Relativistic free particle solution
- Action
- Non-relativistic limit
- Classical field
- Quantum field
- Electromagnetic interaction
- Gravitational interaction
- See also
- Remarks
- Notes
- References
- External links

The equation can be put into the form of a Schrödinger equation. In this form it is expressed as two coupled differential equations, each of first order in time.^{ [3] } The solutions have two components, reflecting the charge degree of freedom in relativity.^{ [3] }^{ [4] } It admits a conserved quantity, but this is not positive definite. The wave function cannot therefore be interpreted as a probability amplitude. The conserved quantity is instead interpreted as electric charge, and the norm squared of the wave function is interpreted as a charge density. The equation describes all spinless particles with positive, negative, and zero charge.

Any solution of the free Dirac equation is, for each of its four components, a solution of the free Klein–Gordon equation. The Klein–Gordon equation does not form the basis of a consistent quantum relativistic *one-particle* theory. There is no known such theory for particles of any spin. For full reconciliation of quantum mechanics with special relativity, quantum field theory is needed, in which the Klein–Gordon equation reemerges as the equation obeyed by the components of all free quantum fields.^{ [nb 1] } In quantum field theory, the solutions of the free (noninteracting) versions of the original equations still play a role. They are needed to build the Hilbert space (Fock space) and to express quantum fields by using complete sets (spanning sets of Hilbert space) of wave functions.

The Klein–Gordon equation with mass parameter is

Solutions of the equation are complex-valued functions of the time variable and space variables ; the Laplacian acts on the space variables only.

The equation is often abbreviated as

where *μ* = *mc*/*ħ*, and □ is the d'Alembert operator, defined by

(We are using the (−, +, +, +) metric signature.)

The Klein–Gordon equation is often written in natural units:

- .

The form of the Klein–Gordon equation is derived by requiring that plane-wave solutions

of the equation obey the energy–momentum relation of special relativity:

Unlike the Schrödinger equation, the Klein–Gordon equation admits two values of ω for each k: one positive and one negative. Only by separating out the positive and negative frequency parts does one obtain an equation describing a relativistic wavefunction. For the time-independent case, the Klein–Gordon equation becomes

which is formally the same as the homogeneous screened Poisson equation.

The equation was named after the physicists Oskar Klein and Walter Gordon, who in 1926 proposed that it describes relativistic electrons. Other authors making similar claims in that same year were Vladimir Fock, Johann Kudar, Théophile de Donder and Frans-H. van den Dungen, and Louis de Broglie. Although it turned out that modeling the electron's spin required the Dirac equation, the Klein–Gordon equation correctly describes the spinless relativistic composite particles, like the pion. On 4 July 2012, European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. Since the Higgs boson is a spin-zero particle, it is the first observed ostensibly elementary particle to be described by the Klein–Gordon equation. Further experimentation and analysis is required to discern whether the Higgs boson observed is that of the Standard Model or a more exotic, possibly composite, form.

The Klein–Gordon equation was first considered as a quantum wave equation by Schrödinger in his search for an equation describing de Broglie waves. The equation is found in his notebooks from late 1925, and he appears to have prepared a manuscript applying it to the hydrogen atom. Yet, because it fails to take into account the electron's spin, the equation predicts the hydrogen atom's fine structure incorrectly, including overestimating the overall magnitude of the splitting pattern by a factor of 4*n*/2*n* − 1 for the *n*-th energy level. The Dirac equation relativistic spectrum is, however, easily recovered if the orbital-momentum quantum number l is replaced by total angular-momentum quantum number j.^{ [5] } In January 1926, Schrödinger submitted for publication instead *his* equation, a non-relativistic approximation that predicts the Bohr energy levels of hydrogen without fine structure.

In 1926, soon after the Schrödinger equation was introduced, Vladimir Fock wrote an article about its generalization for the case of magnetic fields, where forces were dependent on velocity, and independently derived this equation. Both Klein and Fock used Kaluza and Klein's method. Fock also determined the gauge theory for the wave equation. The Klein–Gordon equation for a free particle has a simple plane-wave solution.

The non-relativistic equation for the energy of a free particle is

By quantizing this, we get the non-relativistic Schrödinger equation for a free particle:

where

is the momentum operator (∇ being the del operator), and

is the energy operator.

The Schrödinger equation suffers from not being relativistically invariant, meaning that it is inconsistent with special relativity.

It is natural to try to use the identity from special relativity describing the energy:

Then, just inserting the quantum-mechanical operators for momentum and energy yields the equation

The square root of a differential operator can be defined with the help of Fourier transformations, but due to the asymmetry of space and time derivatives, Dirac found it impossible to include external electromagnetic fields in a relativistically invariant way. So he looked for another equation that can be modified in order to describe the action of electromagnetic forces. In addition, this equation, as it stands, is nonlocal (see also Introduction to nonlocal equations).

Klein and Gordon instead began with the square of the above identity, i.e.

which, when quantized, gives

which simplifies to

Rearranging terms yields

Since all reference to imaginary numbers has been eliminated from this equation, it can be applied to fields that are real-valued, as well as those that have complex values.

Rewriting the first two terms using the inverse of the Minkowski metric diag(−*c*^{2}, 1, 1, 1), and writing the Einstein summation convention explicitly we get

Thus the Klein–Gordon equation can be written in a covariant notation. This often means an abbreviation in the form of

where

and

This operator is called the d'Alembert operator.

Today this form is interpreted as the relativistic field equation for spin-0 particles.^{ [3] } Furthermore, any *component* of any solution to the free Dirac equation (for a spin-1/2 particle) is automatically a solution to the free Klein–Gordon equation. This generalizes to particles of any spin due to the Bargmann–Wigner equations. Furthermore, in quantum field theory, every component of every quantum field must satisfy the free Klein–Gordon equation,^{ [6] } making the equation a generic expression of quantum fields.

The Klein–Gordon equation can be generalized to describe a field in some potential *V*(*ψ*) as^{ [7] }

The conserved current associated to the *U*(1) symmetry of a complex field satisfying the Klein–Gordon equation reads

The form of the conserved current can be derived systematically by applying Noether's theorem to the *U*(1) symmetry. We will not do so here, but simply give a proof that this conserved current is correct.

Proof using algebraic manipulations from the KG equation

From the Klein–Gordon equation for a complex field of mass , written in covariant notation

and its complex conjugate

we have, multiplying by the left respectively by and (and omitting for brevity the explicit dependence),

Subtracting the former from the latter, we obtain

then we also know

from which we obtain the conservation law for the Klein–Gordon field:

The Klein–Gordon equation for a free particle can be written as

We look for plane-wave solutions of the form

for some constant angular frequency *ω* ∈ ℝ and wave number **k** ∈ ℝ^{3}. Substitution gives the *dispersion relation*

Energy and momentum are seen to be proportional to *ω* and **k**:

So the dispersion relation is just the classic relativistic equation:

For massless particles, we may set *m* = 0, recovering the relationship between energy and momentum for massless particles:

The Klein–Gordon equation can also be derived by a variational method, considering the action^{[ dubious – discuss ]}

where ψ is the Klein–Gordon field, and *m* is its mass. The complex conjugate of ψ is written ψ. If the scalar field is taken to be real-valued, then ψ = ψ, and it is customary to introduce a factor of 1/2 for both terms.

Applying the formula for the Hilbert stress–energy tensor to the Lagrangian density (the quantity inside the integral), we can derive the stress–energy tensor of the scalar field. It is

By integration of the time–time component *T*^{00} over all space, one may show that both the positive- and negative-frequency plane-wave solutions can be physically associated with particles with *positive* energy. This is not the case for the Dirac equation and its energy–momentum tensor.^{ [3] }

Taking the non-relativistic limit (v << c) of a classical Klein-Gordon field ψ(**x**, t) begins with the ansatz factoring the oscillatory rest mass energy term,

Defining the kinetic energy , in the non-relativistic limit v~p << c, and hence

Applying this yields the non-relativistic limit of the second time derivative of ,

Substituting into the free Klein–Gordon equation, , yields

which (by dividing out the exponential and subtracting the mass term) simplifies to

This is a *classical* Schrödinger field.

The analogous limit of a quantum Klein-Gordon field is complicated by the non-commutativity of the field operator. In the limit v << c, the creation and annihilation operators decouple and behave as independent quantum Schrödinger fields.

There is a simple way to make any field interact with electromagnetism in a gauge-invariant way: replace the derivative operators with the gauge-covariant derivative operators. This is because to maintain symmetry of the physical equations for the wavefunction under a local *U*(1) gauge transformation , where is a locally variable phase angle, which transformation redirects the wavefunction in the complex phase space defined by , it is required that ordinary derivatives be replaced by gauge-covariant derivatives , while the gauge fields transform as . With the (−, +, +, +) metric signature, The Klein–Gordon equation therefore becomes

in natural units, where *A* is the vector potential. While it is possible to add many higher-order terms, for example,

these terms are not renormalizable in 3 + 1 dimensions.

The field equation for a charged scalar field multiplies by i,^{[ clarification needed ]} which means that the field must be complex. In order for a field to be charged, it must have two components that can rotate into each other, the real and imaginary parts.

The action for a massless charged scalar is the covariant version of the uncharged action:

In general relativity, we include the effect of gravity by replacing partial with covariant derivatives, and the Klein–Gordon equation becomes (in the mostly pluses signature)^{ [8] }

or equivalently,

where *g ^{αβ}* is the inverse of the metric tensor that is the gravitational potential field,

- ↑ Steven Weinberg makes a point about this. He leaves out the treatment of relativistic wave mechanics altogether in his otherwise complete introduction to modern applications of quantum mechanics, explaining: "It seems to me that the way this is usually presented in books on quantum mechanics is profoundly misleading." (From the preface in
*Lectures on Quantum Mechanics*, referring to treatments of the Dirac equation in its original flavor.)

Others, like Walter Greiner does in his series on theoretical physics, give a full account of the historical development and view of relativistic quantum mechanics before they get to the modern interpretation, with the rationale that it is highly desirable or even necessary from a pedagogical point of view to take the long route.

- ↑ Gross 1993.
- ↑ Greiner & Müller 1994.
- 1 2 3 4 Greiner 2000 , Ch. 1.
- ↑ Feshbach & Villars 1958.
- ↑ See Itzykson, C.; Zuber, J.-B. (1985).
*Quantum Field Theory*. McGraw-Hill. pp. 73–74. ISBN 0-07-032071-3. Eq. 2.87 is identical to eq. 2.86, except that it features j instead of l. - ↑ Weinberg 2002 , Ch. 5.
- ↑ David Tong, Lectures on Quantum Field Theory, Lecture 1, Section 1.1.1.
- ↑ Fulling, S. A. (1996).
*Aspects of Quantum Field Theory in Curved Space–Time*. Cambridge University Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-07-066353-X.

In particle physics, the **Dirac equation** is a relativistic wave equation derived by British physicist Paul Dirac in 1928. In its free form, or including electromagnetic interactions, it describes all spin-½ massive particles such as electrons and quarks for which parity is a symmetry. It is consistent with both the principles of quantum mechanics and the theory of special relativity, and was the first theory to account fully for special relativity in the context of quantum mechanics. It was validated by accounting for the fine details of the hydrogen spectrum in a completely rigorous way.

In physics, the **Navier–Stokes equations** are a set of partial differential equations which describe the motion of viscous fluid substances, named after French engineer and physicist Claude-Louis Navier and Anglo-Irish physicist and mathematician George Gabriel Stokes.

**Noether's theorem** or **Noether's first theorem** states that every differentiable symmetry of the action of a physical system has a corresponding conservation law. The theorem was proven by mathematician Emmy Noether in 1915 and published in 1918, after a special case was proven by E. Cosserat and F. Cosserat in 1909. The action of a physical system is the integral over time of a Lagrangian function, from which the system's behavior can be determined by the principle of least action. This theorem only applies to continuous and smooth symmetries over physical space.

In physics, specifically relativistic quantum mechanics (RQM) and its applications to particle physics, **relativistic wave equations** predict the behavior of particles at high energies and velocities comparable to the speed of light. In the context of quantum field theory (QFT), the equations determine the dynamics of quantum fields. The solutions to the equations, universally denoted as ψ or Ψ, are referred to as "wave functions" in the context of RQM, and "fields" in the context of QFT. The equations themselves are called "wave equations" or "field equations", because they have the mathematical form of a wave equation or are generated from a Lagrangian density and the field-theoretic Euler–Lagrange equations.

In physics, specifically field theory and particle physics, the **Proca action** describes a massive spin-1 field of mass *m* in Minkowski spacetime. The corresponding equation is a relativistic wave equation called the **Proca equation**. The Proca action and equation are named after Romanian physicist Alexandru Proca.

In atomic physics, the **electron magnetic moment**, or more specifically the **electron magnetic dipole moment**, is the magnetic moment of an electron caused by its intrinsic properties of spin and electric charge. The value of the electron magnetic moment is approximately −9.284764×10^{−24} J/T. The electron magnetic moment has been measured to an accuracy of 7.6 parts in 10^{13}.

In differential geometry, the **four-gradient** is the four-vector analogue of the gradient from vector calculus.

In the physics of gauge theories, **gauge fixing** denotes a mathematical procedure for coping with redundant degrees of freedom in field variables. By definition, a gauge theory represents each physically distinct configuration of the system as an equivalence class of detailed local field configurations. Any two detailed configurations in the same equivalence class are related by a gauge transformation, equivalent to a shear along unphysical axes in configuration space. Most of the quantitative physical predictions of a gauge theory can only be obtained under a coherent prescription for suppressing or ignoring these unphysical degrees of freedom.

In quantum mechanics, the **momentum operator** is the operator associated with the linear momentum. The momentum operator is, in the position representation, an example of a differential operator. For the case of one particle in one spatial dimension, the definition is:

In field theory, a **nonlocal Lagrangian** is a Lagrangian, a type of functional containing terms that are *nonlocal* in the fields , i.e. not polynomials or functions of the fields or their derivatives evaluated at a single point in the space of dynamical parameters. Examples of such nonlocal Lagrangians might be:

There are various **mathematical descriptions of the electromagnetic field** that are used in the study of electromagnetism, one of the four fundamental interactions of nature. In this article, several approaches are discussed, although the equations are in terms of electric and magnetic fields, potentials, and charges with currents, generally speaking.

In quantum mechanics, the **Pauli equation** or **Schrödinger–Pauli equation** is the formulation of the Schrödinger equation for spin-½ particles, which takes into account the interaction of the particle's spin with an external electromagnetic field. It is the non-relativistic limit of the Dirac equation and can be used where particles are moving at speeds much less than the speed of light, so that relativistic effects can be neglected. It was formulated by Wolfgang Pauli in 1927.

In mathematical physics, **spacetime algebra** (STA) is a name for the Clifford algebra Cl_{1,3}(**R**), or equivalently the geometric algebra G(M^{4}). According to David Hestenes, spacetime algebra can be particularly closely associated with the geometry of special relativity and relativistic spacetime.

In quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, a **Schrödinger field**, named after Erwin Schrödinger, is a quantum field which obeys the Schrödinger equation. While any situation described by a Schrödinger field can also be described by a many-body Schrödinger equation for identical particles, the field theory is more suitable for situations where the particle number changes.

In fluid dynamics, the **Oseen equations** describe the flow of a viscous and incompressible fluid at small Reynolds numbers, as formulated by Carl Wilhelm Oseen in 1910. Oseen flow is an improved description of these flows, as compared to Stokes flow, with the (partial) inclusion of convective acceleration.

In physics, a **gauge theory** is a type of field theory in which the Lagrangian does not change under local transformations from certain Lie groups.

**Alexandru Proca** was a Romanian physicist who studied and worked in France. He developed the vector meson theory of nuclear forces and the relativistic quantum field equations that bear his name for the massive, vector spin-1 mesons.

In physics, particularly in quantum field theory, the **Weyl equation** is a relativistic wave equation for describing massless spin-1/2 particles called **Weyl fermions**. The equation is named after Hermann Weyl. The Weyl fermions are one of the three possible types of elementary fermions, the other two being the Dirac and the Majorana fermions.

**Lagrangian field theory** is a formalism in classical field theory. It is the field-theoretic analogue of Lagrangian mechanics. Lagrangian mechanics is used to analyze the motion of a system of discrete particles each with a finite number of degrees of freedom. Lagrangian field theory applies to continua and fields, which have an infinite number of degrees of freedom.

In mathematical physics, the **Gordon decomposition** of the Dirac current is a splitting of the charge or particle-number current into a part that arises from the motion of the center of mass of the particles and a part that arises from gradients of the spin density. It makes explicit use of the Dirac equation and so it applies only to "on-shell" solutions of the Dirac equation.

- Davydov, A. S. (1976).
*Quantum Mechanics, 2nd Edition*. Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-020437-6. - Feshbach, H.; Villars, F. (1958). "Elementary relativistic wave mechanics of spin 0 and spin 1/2 particles".
*Reviews of Modern Physics*.**30**(1): 24–45. Bibcode:1958RvMP...30...24F. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.30.24. - Gordon, Walter (1926). "Der Comptoneffekt nach der Schrödingerschen Theorie".
*Zeitschrift für Physik*.**40**(1–2): 117. Bibcode:1926ZPhy...40..117G. doi:10.1007/BF01390840. S2CID 122254400. - Greiner, W. (2000).
*Relativistic Quantum Mechanics. Wave Equations*(3rd ed.). Springer Verlag. ISBN 3-5406-74578. - Greiner, W.; Müller, B. (1994).
*Quantum Mechanics: Symmetries*(2nd ed.). Springer. ISBN 978-3540580805. - Gross, F. (1993).
*Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Field Theory*(1st ed.). Wiley-VCH. ISBN 978-0471591139. - Klein, O. (1926). "Quantentheorie und fünfdimensionale Relativitätstheorie".
*Zeitschrift für Physik*.**37**(12): 895. Bibcode:1926ZPhy...37..895K. doi:10.1007/BF01397481. - Sakurai, J. J. (1967).
*Advanced Quantum Mechanics*. Addison Wesley. ISBN 0-201-06710-2. - Weinberg, S. (2002).
*The Quantum Theory of Fields*.**I**. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-55001-7.

- "Klein–Gordon equation",
*Encyclopedia of Mathematics*, EMS Press, 2001 [1994] - Weisstein, Eric W. "Klein-Gordon Equation".
*MathWorld*. - Linear Klein–Gordon Equation at EqWorld: The World of Mathematical Equations.
- Nonlinear Klein–Gordon Equation at EqWorld: The World of Mathematical Equations.
- Introduction to nonlocal equations.

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