Structures in classical phase space and quantum chaotic dynamics

B. S. Helmkamp, Louisiana State University
D. A. Browne, Louisiana State University


We compare the quantum and classical dynamics of a particle moving in a cosine potential while subject to a time-dependent force. We concentrate here on the behavior of an initially well-localized wave packet at times before the classically chaotic motion is fully developed. We find that the quantum and classical dynamics are indistinguishable well beyond the Ehrenfest time where the wave packet delocalizes. The quantum and classical descriptions first differ precisely when the classical probability density is folded in the vicinity of a hyperbolic fixed point. At this point, the wave function acquires a nodal structure which we show to be the result of a simple beating phenomenon between paths in the semiclassical propagator. © 1994 The American Physical Society.