In quantum mechanics, the passing of a particle through a seemingly impenetrable barrier without a cause that is explainable by classical physics.
* * *or barrier penetrationIn physics, the passage of a particle through a seemingly impassable energy barrier.Though a particle's energy may be too low to surmount a barrier in classical physics, the particle may still cross the barrier as a consequence of its quantum-mechanical wave properties. An important application of this phenomenon is in the operation of the scanning tunneling microscope.
* * *▪ physicsalso called Barrier Penetration,in physics, passage of minute particles through seemingly impassable force barriers. The phenomenon first drew attention in the case of alpha decay, in which alpha particles (nuclei of helium atoms) escape from certain radioactive atomic nuclei. Because nuclear constituents are held together by a force that the alpha particles have insufficient energy to overcome, their tunneling is contrary to the conventional understanding of classical physics and requires instead explanation in terms of quantum mechanics.On the basis of quantum mechanics, particles of subatomic size make their way across barriers even though their energies are too small to carry them over in the conventional way. Such particles follow the undulations of a quantum-mechanical (de Broglie) wave, accumulating where the wave grows and thinning out where it diminishes. Thus, the alpha particles, which seem to be tunneling through an impenetrable barrier, really penetrate it as a natural consequence of their wave properties.
* * *