Maximum Tunneling Velocities in Symmetric Double Well Potentials
Jörn Manz, Axel Schild, Burkhard Schmidt, and Yonggang Yang
We consider coherent tunneling of one-dimensional model systems in non-cyclic or cyclic symmetric double well potentials. Generic potentials are constructed which allow for analytical estimates of the quantum dynamics in the non-relativistic deep tunneling regime, in terms of the tunneling distance, barrier height and mass (or moment of inertia). For cyclic systems, the results may be scaled to agree well with periodic potentials for which semi-analytical results in terms of Mathieu functions exist. Starting from a wavepacket which is initially localized in one of the potential wells, the subsequent periodic tunneling is associated with tunneling velocities. These velocities (or angular velocities) are evaluated as the ratio of the flux densities versus the probability densities. The maximum velocities are found under the top of the barrier where they scale as the square root of the ratio of barrier height and mass (or moment of inertia), independent of the tunneling distance. They are applied exemplarily to several prototypical molecular models of non-cyclic and cyclic tunneling, including ammonia inversion, Cope rearrangment of semibullvalene, torsions of molecular fragments, and rotational tunneling in strong laser fields. Typical maximum velocities and angular velocities are in the order of a few km/s and from 10 to 100 THz for our non-cyclic and cyclic systems, respectively, much faster than time-averaged velocities. Even for the more extreme case of an electron tunneling through a barrier of height of one Hartree, the velocity is only about one percent of the speed of light. Estimates of the corresponding time scales for passing through the narrow domain just below the potential barrier are in the domain from 2 to 40 fs, much shorter than the tunneling times.