Quantum Tunneling

Quantum tunnelling, also known as tunneling is a quantum mechanical phenomenon whereby a wavefunction can propagate through a potential barrier. The transmission through the barrier can be finite and depends exponentially on the barrier height and barrier width. The wavefunction may disappear on one side and reappear on the other side. The wavefunction and its first derivative are continuous. In steady-state, the probability flux in the forward direction is spatially uniform. No particle or wave is lost. Tunneling occurs with barriers of thickness around 1–3 nm and smaller. Some authors also identify the mere penetration of the wavefunction into the barrier, without transmission on the other side as a tunneling effect. Quantum tunneling is not predicted by the laws of classical mechanics where surmounting a potential barrier requires potential energy. Quantum tunneling plays an essential role in physical phenomena such as nuclear fusion and alpha radioactive decay of atomic nuclei.

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