The education of Walter Kohn and the creation of density functional theory

Por • 26 mar, 2014 • Sección: Leyes

Andrew Zangwill

Abstract: The theoretical solid-state physicist Walter Kohn was awarded one-half of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his mid-1960’s creation of an approach to the many-particle problem in quantum mechanics called density functional theory (DFT). In its exact form, DFT establishes that the total charge density of any system of electrons and nuclei provides all the information needed for a complete description of that system. This was a breakthrough for the study of atoms, molecules, gases, liquids, and solids. Before DFT, it was thought that only the vastly more complicated many-electron wave function was needed for a complete description of such systems. Today, fifty years after its introduction, DFT (in one of its approximate forms) is the method of choice used by most scientists to calculate the physical properties of materials of all kinds. In this paper, I present a biographical essay of Kohn’s educational experiences and professional career up to and including the creation of DFT.

arXiv:1403.5164v1 [physics.hist-ph]

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