Chemical Education

Quantum Particle-in-a-Sandbox: A video game that explores the time-dependent wave function for any arbitrary one-dimensional potential



We present a tool, one that is both a stand-alone video game and a Python package, designed for students to explore a particle’s wave function on one-dimensional potential surfaces. The tool relies on a basis set formalism and can therefore explore any one-dimensional potential surface imaginable. This tool also lets students interact with the wave function and is the first of its kind to explore concepts such as the superposition principle and wave function collapse; its time-dependent nature shows how any wave function evolves over time allowing for exploration of other concepts such as the uncertainty principle. The video game’s ease of use makes these concepts accessible to anyone, without prior chemistry or programming background—though we expect that it would be most useful for undergraduate physical chemistry students and instructors.


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Supplementary material

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Supporting Information for Quantum Particle-in-a-Sandbox
Details of the theoretical framework; Installation instructions for Windows, MacOS, and Linux/Unix systems; How to use the QPiaS Python package.

Supplementary weblinks

Quantum Particle-in-a-Sandbox source code
GitHub repository of the Quantum Particle-in-a-Sandbox code