The Uncertainty Principle in Optics

3.1 Approximate Derivation of the Uncertainty Principle

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle (Heisenberg 1927) is of fundamental importance to optics and to laser optics in particular. Here, optical arguments are applied to outline an approximate derivation of the uncertainty principle.

3.1.1 The Wave Character of Particles

The quantum energy of a particle is given by the well-known quantum energy equation



h is Planck’s constant

Equating this to the relativistic energy E = mc2 and using the identity λ = c/ν, an expression for the momentum of a particle can be given as


which, using the identity


can be restated as


This momentum equation was applied to particles, ...

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