Department of Physics

Postgraduate research profiles


Bradley McGrath

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 1842

Start date

Sep 2005

Submission date

Sep 2009

Bradley McGrath


A Comparison of Acoustic and Quantum Wave Propagators


The aim of this research project is to study and analyse the propagation of waves by developing theoretical and computational models and algorithms, with a goal of increased speed, accuracy and efficiency. This work covers multiple issues, such as the nature of wave propagation in one, two and three dimensional systems, the space and time domain evolutions of these waves, and the effects of obstacles of varying shapes and sizes on the propagation. This work applies to both acoustic and quantum mechanical systems. Specifically, this work concentrates on developing computational algorithms for Chebyshev expansions for solutions of the acoustic wave equation and the Schrödinger equation found in quantum mechanics. It is an efficient technique for calculating wave behaviour in a wide variety of situations. The project covers two- and three-dimensional situations and applies to both the acoustical and quantum mechanical theories, due to a great similarity between formulae. Alternative methods for achieving further accuracy and efficiency are investigated and incorporated, and selected physical situations are examined.

Why my research is important

In the acoustics field, these techniques are particularly suited to studying and testing the design of theatres, headphones, hearing devices, and noise barriers. The models need only to propagate the sound waves around barriers and see how they reflect and transmit. Work has already been done on attempting to optimise a wave trapping design for industrial noise barriers, with some success. On a smaller scale, the issues of quantum dynamics can be modelled in a similar way, as waves propagating into potential voltage barriers. One proposed design for quantum computation uses Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW) to collect and transport electrons like a conveyer belt through sets of negative voltage potentials that form quantum logic gates. The SAW can be modelled using a two-dimension quantum wave propagator, as described above. This work will attempt to model SAW electron transport and simulate its behaviour through various quantum logic gates.


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