In Spherical Coordinates, the Scale Factors are ,
, , and
the separation functions are , ,
, giving a Stäckel
Determinant of . The Laplacian is

(1) 
To solve the Helmholtz Differential Equation in Spherical
Coordinates, attempt Separation of Variables by writing

(2) 
Then the Helmholtz Differential Equation becomes

(3) 
Now divide by ,

(5) 
The solution to the second part of (5) must be sinusoidal, so the differential equation is

(6) 
which has solutions which may be defined either as a Complex function with , ...,

(7) 
or as a sum of Real sine and cosine functions with , ...,

(8) 
Plugging (6) back into (7),

(9) 
The radial part must be equal to a constant

(10) 

(11) 
But this is the Euler Differential Equation, so we try a series solution of the form

(12) 
Then



(13) 



(14) 

(15) 
This must hold true for all Powers of . For the term (with ),

(16) 
which is true only if and all other terms vanish. So for , . Therefore, the
solution of the component is given by

(17) 
Plugging (17) back into (9),

(18) 

(19) 
which is the associated Legendre Differential Equation for and , ..., . The general
Complex solution is therefore



(20) 
where

(21) 
are the (Complex) Spherical Harmonics. The general Real solution is

(22) 
Some of the normalization constants of can be absorbed by and , so this equation may appear in the
form



(23) 
where

(24) 

(25) 
are the Even and Odd (real) Spherical Harmonics. If azimuthal symmetry is present, then
is constant and the solution of the component is a Legendre Polynomial
. The
general solution is then

(26) 
Actually, the equation is separable under the more general condition that
is of the form

(27) 
References
Morse, P. M. and Feshbach, H. Methods of Theoretical Physics, Part I. New York: McGrawHill, p. 514 and 658, 1953.
© 19969 Eric W. Weisstein
19990525