Zero-Point Energy

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Related to Zero-Point Energy: ZPE

zero-point energy

[′zir·ō ¦pȯint ′en·ər·jē]
(statistical mechanics)
The kinetic energy retained by the molecules of a substance at a temperature of absolute zero.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zero-Point Energy


in a quantum-mechanical system, the difference between the ground-state energy and the energy that corresponds to the minimum potential energy. Zero-point energy is a consequence of the uncertainty principle (seeUNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE).

In classical mechanics it was assumed that a particle can exist in a state of minimum potential energy and have zero kinetic energy. In this case the particle is at stable equilibrium and has a minimum energy equal to the potential energy at the equilibrium point. In quantum mechanics the uncertainty principle states that the range of values Δx for the coordinate x of a particle is related to the range of values ΔP for the particle’s momentum P by the expression ΔPΔx ∼ ħ, where ħ is Planck’s constant. As Δ x → 0, the localization of the particle near the potential energy minimum gives a large value for the particle’s mean kinetic energy, since the range of values of the momentum is large, as implied by the expression ΔP∼ħΔx. On the other hand, when Δx ≠ 0, that is, when the degree of the particle’s localization is reduced, the mean potential energy increases because the particle spends considerable time in an area in which the potential energy exceeds the minimum value the ground-state energy of a quantum-mechanical system corresponds to the lowest energy that is permitted by the uncertainty principle.

Zero-point energy is a general property of all coupled systems of microparticles. It is not possible to convert a system into a state that has an energy lower than zero-point energy without changing the system’s structure.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Indeed, the zero-point energy [[epsilon].sub.0], besides being a fixed quantity for each mode, is indispensable to get a discrete Boltzmann's distribution from a continuous one [12].
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Among his topics are whether the zero-point energy is real, the role of space and the problem of localization in modern physics, quantum theory in the light of modern experiments, rational and irrational features in Pauli's life, the Swiss years of Albert Einstein, and a dialogue over boundaries between Pauli and C.
Boie pulls from Grand Unified Theory String Theory Zero-Point Energy the Doppler Effect and Relativity.
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(2005, third edition) Practical Conversion of Zero-Point Energy: Feasibility Study of the Extraction of Zero-Point Energy from the Quantum Vacuum for the Performance of Useful Work.
It was noted that the zero-point energy in the c state (7 1 .8 [cm.sup.-1] ) takes up 75% of the hinding energy, causing underestimation of t lie [D.sub.0] vat tie and the monomer to complex red shift.
Zero-point energy: A major problem for the RSPK researcher has been to identify the source of energy causing the movement of household objects and furniture.