Simplified solutions of the Dirac-Coulomb equation
With the use of a simple similarity transformation which brings the radial wave equations of the Dirac-Coulomb problem into a form nearly identical to those of the Schrödinger and Klein-Gordon equations, we derive simplified solutions to the Dirac-Coulomb equation for both the bound and continuum states following the familiar standard procedure adopted in the derivation of the conventional solutions. We show that to obtain the desired form of the second-order radial equations we can still work with a first-order partial differential equation rather than with the second-order Dirac equation widely employed in the derivation of the simplified solutions, and thus we can avoid the task of reducing the solutions of the second-order equations to those of the original Dirac equation. The transformed Dirac-Coulomb radial equations are so simple that one can apply the WKB method to them in the same way that one applies the WKB approximation to the Schrödinger radial equation, without making the further approximations commonly invoked, and the Sommerfeld-Dirac discrete spectrum follows immediately. For small Zα, we also present approximate expressions for both the transformed and the original Dirac-Coulomb wave functions, which are valid for all energies and certainly valid in the quasirelativistic approximation which takes account of relativistic effects. The structure of these approximate expressions also suggests one of the methods to obtain relativistic approximate wave functions from the Pauli-spinor wave function for more general central potentials arising in atoms, molecules, and solids.