The Pilot-Wave Perspective on Quantum Scattering and Tunneling
The de Broglie - Bohm "pilot-wave" theory replaces the paradoxical wave-particle duality of ordinary quantum theory with a more mundane and literal kind of duality: each individual photon or electron comprises a quantum wave (evolving in accordance with the usual quantum mechanical wave equation) and a particle that, under the influence of the wave, traces out a definite trajectory. The definite particle trajectory allows the theory to account for the results of experiments without the usual recourse to additional dynamical axioms about measurements. Instead one need simply assume that particle detectors click when particles arrive at them. This alternative understanding of quantum phenomena is illustrated here for two elementary textbook examples of one-dimensional scattering and tunneling. We introduce a novel approach to reconciling standard textbook calculations (made using unphysical plane-wave states) with the need to treat such phenomena in terms of normalizable wave packets. This allows for a simple but illuminating analysis of the pilot-wave theory's particle trajectories, and an explicit demonstration of the equivalence of the pilot-wave theory predictions with those of ordinary quantum theory.