We study the timing effects of nonrelativistic wave packet tunneling through a barrier using a numerical simulation readily accessible to an undergraduate audience. We demonstrate that the peak of the transmitted packet can sometimes emerge from the barrier ahead of the peak of an undisturbed wave packet that does not encounter a barrier. Under the right circumstances, this effect can give the appearance that transmission through the barrier occurs at superluminal speeds. We demonstrate that this seemingly paradoxical effect is not all that puzzling. Rather, components from the front of the incoming wave packet are preferentially transmitted, forming a transmitted packet ahead of the average of the incoming wave packet but not ahead of the leading edge of that packet. Our studies also show how the timing depends on barrier height and width, consistent with expectations based on the different energy components of the wave packet.

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Supplementary Material

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