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The New Quantum Universe, Second Edition by Patrick Walters, Tony Hey

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5 Quantum tunnelling

It is possible in quantum mechanics to sneak quickly across a region which is illegal energetically.

Richard Feynman

Barrier penetration

One of the most startling consequences of de Broglie’s wave hypothesis and Schrödinger’s equation was the discovery that quantum objects can ‘tunnel’ through potential energy barriers that classical particles are forbidden to penetrate. To gain some idea of what we mean by an energy barrier, let us go back to our roller coaster and look at a larger section of track, as shown in Fig. 5.1. If we start the carriage from rest, high up on the left, at A, and ignore any small frictional energy losses, we know from the conservation of energy that we shall arrive on the other side at the same height ...

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