We have shown in the section on conserved quantities that the operator

The **operator may be written in several ways**.

Assume that the **eigenvalues of ** are given by

We now compare the and operators.

The eigenvalues of are

The difference between and is related to .

We may solve for the effect of on the spinor , then, solve for the effect of . Note that since and are eigenstates of and , they are eigenstates of but have different eigenvalues.

Note that the eigenvalues for the upper and lower components have the same possible values, but are opposite for energy eigenstates. We already know the relation from NR QM. We simply check that it is the same here.

It is correct. So and are

The Dirac Equation then is.

We can use commutation and anticommutation relations to **write
in terms of separate angular and radial operators**.

Note that the operators and act only on the angular momentum parts of the state. There are no radial derivatives so they commute with . Lets pick a shorthand notation for the angular momentum eigenstates we must use. These have quantum numbers , , and . will have and must have the other possible value of which we label . Following the notation of Sakurai, we will call the state . (Note that our previous functions made use of particularly in the calculation of and .)

The **effect of the two operators related to angular momentum** can be deduced.
First,
is related to
.
For positive
,
has
.
For negative
,
has
.
For either,
has the opposite relation for
, indicating why the full spinor is not an eigenstate of
.

Second, is a pseudoscalar operator. It therefore changes parity and the parity of the state is given by ; so it must change .

The square of the operator is one, as is clear from the derivation above, so we know the effect of this operator up to a phase factor.

The phase factor depends on the conventions we choose for the states . For our conventions, the factor is .

We now have everything we need to **get to the radial equations**.

This is now a set of two coupled radial equations. We can simplify them a bit by making the substitutions and . The extra term from the derivative cancels the 1's that are with s.

These equations are true for any spherically symmetric potential.
Now it is time to **specialize to the hydrogen atom** for which
.
We define
and
and the dimensionless
.
The equations then become.

With the guidance of the non-relativistic solutions, we will **postulate a solution of the form**

The exponential will make everything go to zero for large if the power series terminates. We need to verify that this is a solution near if we pick the right , , and . We now substitute these postulated solutions into the equations to

For the lowest order term
, we need to have a solution without lower powers.
This means that we **look at the recursion relations** with
and solve the equations.

Note that while is a non-zero integer, is a small non-integer number. We need to take the positive root in order to keep the state normalized.

As usual, the **series must terminate at some ** for the state to normalizable.
This can be seen approximately by assuming either the
's or the
's are small and noting that the series is that of a positive exponential.

Assume the series for
and
**terminate at the same **.
We can then take the equations in the coefficients and set
to get relationships between
and
.

These are the same equation, which is consistent with our assumption.

The final step is to use this result in the **recursion relations for ** to
find a **condition on ** which must be satisfied for the series to terminate.
Note that this choice of
connects
and
to the rest of the series giving nontrivial conditions on
.
We already have the information from the next step in the recursion which gives
.

At this point we take the difference between the two equations to get one condition.

Using the quantum numbers from four mutually commuting operators,
we have solved the radial equation in a similar way as for the non-relativistic case
yielding the exact **energy relation** for relativistic Quantum Mechanics.

We can identify the standard principle quantum number in this case as
.
This result gives the same answer as our non-relativistic calculation to order
but is also
**correct to higher order**.
It is an **exact solution to the quantum mechanics problem** posed but does not include the effects of
**field theory**, such as the Lamb shift and the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron.

Relativistic corrections become quite important for high atoms in which the typical velocity of electrons in the most inner shells is of order .

Jim Branson 2013-04-22