Timeline of quantum mechanics

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The timeline of quantum mechanics is a list of key events in the history of quantum mechanics, quantum field theories and quantum chemistry.


19th century

Image of Becquerel's photographic plate which has been fogged by exposure to radiation from a uranium salt. The shadow of a metal Maltese Cross placed between the plate and the uranium salt is clearly visible. Becquerel plate.jpg
Image of Becquerel's photographic plate which has been fogged by exposure to radiation from a uranium salt. The shadow of a metal Maltese Cross placed between the plate and the uranium salt is clearly visible.

20th century


Einstein, in 1905, when he wrote the Annus Mirabilis papers Einstein patentoffice.jpg
Einstein, in 1905, when he wrote the Annus Mirabilis papers


A schematic diagram of the apparatus for Millikan's refined oil drop experiment. Scheme of Millikan's apparatus.jpg
A schematic diagram of the apparatus for Millikan's refined oil drop experiment.


A plaque at the University of Frankfurt commemorating the Stern-Gerlach experiment. SternGerlach2.jpg
A plaque at the University of Frankfurt commemorating the Stern–Gerlach experiment.


Electron microscope constructed by Ernst Ruska in 1933. Ernst Ruska Electron Microscope - Deutsches Museum - Munich-edit.jpg
Electron microscope constructed by Ernst Ruska in 1933.


A Feynman diagram showing the radiation of a gluon when an electron and positron are annihilated. Feynmann Diagram Gluon Radiation.svg
A Feynman diagram showing the radiation of a gluon when an electron and positron are annihilated.



The baryon decuplet of the Eightfold Way proposed by Murray Gell-Mann in 1962. The
particle at the bottom had not yet been observed at the time, but a particle closely matching these predictions was discovered by a particle accelerator group at Brookhaven, proving Gell-Mann's theory. Baryon decuplet.png
The baryon decuplet of the Eightfold Way proposed by Murray Gell-Mann in 1962. The
particle at the bottom had not yet been observed at the time, but a particle closely matching these predictions was discovered by a particle accelerator group at Brookhaven, proving Gell-Mann's theory.



21st century

Graphene is a planar atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms which exhibits unusual and interesting quantum properties. Graphen.jpg
Graphene is a planar atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms which exhibits unusual and interesting quantum properties.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atom</span> Smallest unit of a chemical element

An atom is a particle that consists of a nucleus of protons and neutrons surrounded by an electromagnetically-bound cloud of electrons. The atom is the basic particle of the chemical elements, and the chemical elements are distinguished from each other by the number of protons that are in their atoms. For example, any atom that contains 11 protons is sodium, and any atom that contains 29 protons is copper. The number of neutrons defines the isotope of the element.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plum pudding model</span> Obsolete model of the atom

The plum pudding model is one of several historical scientific models of the atom. First proposed by J. J. Thomson in 1904 soon after the discovery of the electron, but before the discovery of the atomic nucleus, the model tried to explain two properties of atoms then known: that electrons are negatively charged particles and that atoms have no net electric charge. The plum pudding model has electrons surrounded by a volume of positive charge, like negatively charged "plums" embedded in a positively charged "pudding".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atomic theory</span> Model for understanding elemental particles

Atomic theory is the scientific theory that matter is composed of particles called atoms. The concept that matter is composed of discrete particles is an ancient idea, but gained scientific credence in the 18th and 19th centuries when scientists found it could explain the behaviors of gases and how chemical elements reacted with each other. By the end of the 19th century, atomic theory had gained widespread acceptance in the scientific community.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bohr model</span> Atomic model introduced by Niels Bohr in 1913

In atomic physics, the Bohr model or Rutherford–Bohr model of the atom, presented by Niels Bohr and Ernest Rutherford in 1913, consists of a small, dense nucleus surrounded by orbiting electrons. It is analogous to the structure of the Solar System, but with attraction provided by electrostatic force rather than gravity, and with the electron energies quantized.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Electron</span> Elementary particle with negative charge

The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative one elementary electric charge. Electrons belong to the first generation of the lepton particle family, and are generally thought to be elementary particles because they have no known components or substructure. The electron's mass is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton. Quantum mechanical properties of the electron include an intrinsic angular momentum (spin) of a half-integer value, expressed in units of the reduced Planck constant, ħ. Being fermions, no two electrons can occupy the same quantum state, per the Pauli exclusion principle. Like all elementary particles, electrons exhibit properties of both particles and waves: They can collide with other particles and can be diffracted like light. The wave properties of electrons are easier to observe with experiments than those of other particles like neutrons and protons because electrons have a lower mass and hence a longer de Broglie wavelength for a given energy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neutron</span> Subatomic particle with no charge

The neutron is a subatomic particle, symbol
, which has a neutral charge, and a mass slightly greater than that of a proton. Protons and neutrons constitute the nuclei of atoms. Since protons and neutrons behave similarly within the nucleus, and each has a mass of approximately one dalton, they are both referred to as nucleons. Their properties and interactions are described by nuclear physics. Protons and neutrons are not elementary particles; each is composed of three quarks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nuclear physics</span> Field of physics that studies atomic nuclei

Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies atomic nuclei and their constituents and interactions, in addition to the study of other forms of nuclear matter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Proton</span> Subatomic particle with positive charge

A proton is a stable subatomic particle, symbol
, H+, or 1H+ with a positive electric charge of +1 e (elementary charge). Its mass is slightly less than that of a neutron and 1,836 times the mass of an electron (the proton-to-electron mass ratio). Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are jointly referred to as "nucleons" (particles present in atomic nuclei).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pauli exclusion principle</span> Quantum mechanics rule: identical fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state simultaneously

In quantum mechanics, the Pauli exclusion principle states that two or more identical particles with half-integer spins cannot occupy the same quantum state within a quantum system simultaneously. This principle was formulated by Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli in 1925 for electrons, and later extended to all fermions with his spin–statistics theorem of 1940.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Quantum mechanics</span> Description of physical properties at the atomic and subatomic scale

Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quantum physics including quantum chemistry, quantum field theory, quantum technology, and quantum information science.

Atomic, molecular, and optical physics (AMO) is the study of matter–matter and light–matter interactions, at the scale of one or a few atoms and energy scales around several electron volts. The three areas are closely interrelated. AMO theory includes classical, semi-classical and quantum treatments. Typically, the theory and applications of emission, absorption, scattering of electromagnetic radiation (light) from excited atoms and molecules, analysis of spectroscopy, generation of lasers and masers, and the optical properties of matter in general, fall into these categories.

A timeline of atomic and subatomic physics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Subatomic particle</span> Particle smaller than an atom

In physics, a subatomic particle is a particle smaller than an atom. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, a subatomic particle can be either a composite particle, which is composed of other particles, or an elementary particle, which is not composed of other particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stern–Gerlach experiment</span> 1922 physical experiment demonstrating that atomic spin is quantized

In quantum physics, the Stern–Gerlach experiment demonstrated that the spatial orientation of angular momentum is quantized. Thus an atomic-scale system was shown to have intrinsically quantum properties. In the original experiment, silver atoms were sent through a spatially-varying magnetic field, which deflected them before they struck a detector screen, such as a glass slide. Particles with non-zero magnetic moment were deflected, owing to the magnetic field gradient, from a straight path. The screen revealed discrete points of accumulation, rather than a continuous distribution, owing to their quantized spin. Historically, this experiment was decisive in convincing physicists of the reality of angular-momentum quantization in all atomic-scale systems.

Quantum mechanics is the study of matter and its interactions with energy on the scale of atomic and subatomic particles. By contrast, classical physics explains matter and energy only on a scale familiar to human experience, including the behavior of astronomical bodies such as the moon. Classical physics is still used in much of modern science and technology. However, towards the end of the 19th century, scientists discovered phenomena in both the large (macro) and the small (micro) worlds that classical physics could not explain. The desire to resolve inconsistencies between observed phenomena and classical theory led to a revolution in physics, a shift in the original scientific paradigm: the development of quantum mechanics.

The history of quantum mechanics is a fundamental part of the history of modern physics. The major chapters of this history begin with the emergence of quantum ideas to explain individual phenomena -- blackbody radiation, the photoelectric effect, solar emission spectra -- an era called the Old or Older quantum theories. The invention of wave mechanics by Schrodinger and expanded by many others triggers the "modern" era beginning around 1925. Dirac's relativistic quantum theory work lead him to explore quantum theories of radiation, culminating in quantum electrodynamics, the first quantum field theory. The history of quantum mechanics continues in the history of quantum field theory. The history of quantum chemistry, theoretical basis of chemical structure, reactivity, and bonding, interlaces with the events discussed in this article.

The dihydrogen cation or hydrogen molecular ion is a cation with formula H+
. It consists of two hydrogen nuclei (protons) sharing a single electron. It is the simplest molecular ion.

Michał Gryziński was a Polish nuclear physicist, plasma physics specialist and the founder of the free-fall atomic model, an alternative theoretical formulation, a classical approximation asking for trajectories of electron averaging to probability densities described by quantum mechanics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hydrodynamic quantum analogs</span> Similar behavior of quantum systems to droplets bouncing on a fluid

In physics, the hydrodynamic quantum analogs refer to experimentally-observed phenomena involving bouncing fluid droplets over a vibrating fluid bath that behave analogously to several quantum-mechanical systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Discovery of the neutron</span> Scientific background leading to the discovery of subatomic particles

The discovery of the neutron and its properties was central to the extraordinary developments in atomic physics in the first half of the 20th century. Early in the century, Ernest Rutherford developed a crude model of the atom, based on the gold foil experiment of Hans Geiger and Ernest Marsden. In this model, atoms had their mass and positive electric charge concentrated in a very small nucleus. By 1920, isotopes of chemical elements had been discovered, the atomic masses had been determined to be (approximately) integer multiples of the mass of the hydrogen atom, and the atomic number had been identified as the charge on the nucleus. Throughout the 1920s, the nucleus was viewed as composed of combinations of protons and electrons, the two elementary particles known at the time, but that model presented several experimental and theoretical contradictions.


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