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Factorization Method,
Shape Invariance

5.1 Preliminary Remarks
As we already know modelling of SUSY in quantum mechanical sys-
tems rests in the possibility of factorizing the Schroedinger Hamil-
tonian. In e¬ect this amounts to solving a nonlinear di¬erential
equation for the superpotential that belongs to the Riccati class [see
(2.39)]. Not all forms of the Schroedinger equation however meet the
solvability criterion, only a handful of potentials exist which may be
termed as exactly solvable.
Tracking down solvable potentials is an interesting problem by
itself in quantum mechanics [1]. Those which possess normalizable
wavefunctions and yield a spectra of energy-levels include the har-
monic oscillator, Coulomb, isotropic oscillator, Morse, P¨schl-Teller,
Rosen-Morse, and sech2 potentials. The forms of these potentials
are generally expressible in terms of known functions of algebraic
polynomials, exponentials, or trigonometric quanties. Importance of
searching for solvable potentials stems from the fact that they very
often serve as a springboard for undertaking calculations of more
complicated systems. SUSY o¬ers a clue [2,3] to the general nature
of solvability in that most of the partner potentials derived from the
pair of isospectral Hamiltonians satisfy the condition of shape simi-
larity. In other words the functional forms of the partner potentials

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are similar except for the presence of the governing parameters in
the respective potentials. By imposing the so-called “shape invari-
ance” (SI) or “form invariance” condition [4,5] de¬nite expression
for the energy levels can be arrived at in closed forms. Although
su¬cient, the SI condition is not necessary for the solvability of the
Schroedinger equation [6]. However, a number of attempts have been
made to look for them by employing the SI condition. Before we take
up the SI condition let us review brie¬‚y the underlying ideas of the
factorization method in quantum mechanics [7-23].

5.2 Factorization Method of Infeld and Hull
The main idea of the factorization method is to replace a given
Schroedinger equation, which is a second-order di¬erential equation,
by an equivalent pair of ¬rst-order equations. This enables us to ¬nd
the eigenvalues and the normalized eigenfunctions in a far easier man-
ner than solving the original Schroedinger equation directly. Indeed
the factorization technique has proven to be a powerful tool in quan-
tum mechanics. The factorization method has a long history dating
back to the old papers of Schroedinger [17-19], Weyl [20], Dirac [21],
Stevenson [22], and Infeld and Hull (IH) [7,8]. IH showed that, for
a wide class of potentials, the factorization method enables one to
immediately ¬nd the energy spectrum and the associated normalized
wave functions.
Consider the following Schroedinger equation
1 d2 ψ(x)
’ + [V (x, c) ’ E] ψ(x) = 0 (5.1)
2 dx2
where we suppose that the potential V (x, c) is given in terms of a set
of parameters c. We can think of c as being represented by c = c0 +m,
m = 0, 1, 2, . . . or by a scaling ci = qci’1 , 0 < q < 1, i = 0, 1, 2, . . .
However, any speci¬c form of c will not concern us until later in the
The factorizability criterion implies that we can replace (5.1) by
a set of ¬rst-order di¬erential operators A and A+ such that

A(x, c + 1)A+ (x, c + 1)ψ(x, E, c) = ’ [E + g(c + 1)] ψ(x, E, c)

A+ (x, c)A(x, c)ψ(x, E, c) = ’ [E + g(c)] ψ(x, E, c) (5.2a, b)

© 2001 by Chapman & Hall/CRC
To avoid confusion we have displayed explicitly the coordinate x and
the parameter c on the wave function ψ and also on the ¬rst-order
operators A and A+ which are taken to be
A(x, c) = + W (x, c)
A+ (x, c) = ’ + W (x, c) (5.3)
In (5.2) g is some function of c while in (5.3) W is an arbitrary
function of x and c.
It is easy to convince oneself that if ψ(x, E, c) is a solution of
(5.1) then the two functions de¬ned by ψ(x, E, c + 1) = A+ (x, c + 1)
ψ(x, E, c) and ψ(x, E, c ’ 1) = A(x, c)ψ(x, E, c) are also solutions
of the same equation for some ¬xed value of E. This follows in
a straightforward way by left multiplying (5.2a) and (5.2b) by the
operators A+ (x, c + 1) and A(x, c), respectively. As our notations
make the point clear, the solutions have the same coordinate depen-
dence but di¬er in the presence of the parameters. Moreover the
operators A and A+ are mutually self-adjoint due to a φ(A+ f )dx =
a (Aφ)f dx, f being arbitrary subject to the continuity of the inte-
grands and vanishing of φf at the end-points of (a, b).
The necessary and su¬cient conditions which the function W (x, c)
ought to satisfy for (5.1) to be consistent with the pair (5.2) are

W 2 (x, c + 1) + W (x, c + 1) = V (x, c) ’ g(c + 1)
W 2 (x, c) ’ W (x, c) = V (x, c) ’ g(c) (5.4)

Subtraction yields

W 2 (x, c + 1) + W (x, c + 1)
’ W 2 (x, c) ’ W (x, c) = h(c) (5.5)

where h(c) = g(c) ’ g(c + 1). Eq. (5.5) can also be recast in the form
V’ (x, c + 1) = V+ (x, c) + h(c) (5.6)
where V± can be recognized to be the partner components of the
supersymmetric Hamiltonian [see (2.29)]. So the function W (x) in
(5.3) essentially plays the role of the superpotential.

© 2001 by Chapman & Hall/CRC
IH noted that in order for the factorization method to work the
quantity g(c) should be independent of x. Taking as a trial solution

W (x, c) = W0 + cW1 (5.7)

the following constraints emerge from (5.5)

= 0W1 + W1 = ’a2
W0 + W0 W1 = ’ka,
g(c) = a2 c2 + 2kca2 (5.8)
a = 0 : W1 = (x + d)’1
W 0 + W 0 W 1 = b1
g(c) = ’2bc (5.9)

where a, b, d and k are constants.
The solution (5.7) alongwith (5.8) lead to various types of fac-

a =0
Type A:

W1 = a cot a(x + x0 )
W0 = ka cot a(x + x0 ) + (5.10)
sin a(x + x0 )
Type B:

W1 = ia
W0 = iak + e exp(’iax) (5.11)

Type C:
W1 =
bx e
W0 = + (5.12)
2 x
Type D:

W1 = 0
W0 = bx + p (5.13)

© 2001 by Chapman & Hall/CRC
where x0 , e, and p are contents.


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