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Chemistry LibreTexts

5: The Density Matrix

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  • The density matrix or density operator is an alternate representation of the state of a quantum system for which we have previously used the wavefunction. Although describing a quantum system with the density matrix is equivalent to using the wavefunction, one gains significant practical advantages using the density matrix for certain time-dependent problems—particularly relaxation and nonlinear spectroscopy in the condensed phase.

    Thumbnail: measured density matrix of a thermal state. (CC SA-BY 3.0 unported; measured density matrix of a thermal state).

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