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Electrons in strong electromagnetic fields: spin effects and radiation reaction (Conference Presentation)
Author(s): Heiko Bauke; Meng Wen; Christoph H. Keitel

Paper Abstract

Various different classical models of electrons including their spin degree of freedom are commonly applied to describe the coupled dynamics of relativistic electron motion and spin precession in strong electromagnetic fields. The spin dynamics is usually governed by the Thomas-Bargmann-Michel-Telegdi equation [1, 2] in these models, while the electron’s orbital motion follows the (modified) Lorentz force and a spin-dependent Stern-Gerlach force. Various classical models can lead to different or even contradicting predictions how the spin degree of freedom modifies the electron’s orbital motion when the electron moves in strong electromagnetic fields. This discrepancy is rooted in the model-specific energy dependency of the spin induced relativistic Stern-Gerlach force acting on the electron. The Frenkel model [3, 4] and the classical Foldy-Wouthuysen model 5 are compared exemplarily against each other and against the quantum mechanical Dirac equation in order to identify parameter regimes where these classical models make different predictions [6, 7]. Our theoretical results allow for experimental tests of these models. In the setup of the longitudinal Stern-Gerlach effect, the Frenkel model and classical Foldy-Wouthuysen model lead in the relativistic limit to qualitatively different spin effects on the electron trajectory. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that in tightly focused beams in the near infrared the effect of the Stern-Gerlach force of the Frenkel model becomes sufficiently large to be potentially detectable in an experiment. Among the classical spin models, the Frenkel model is certainly prominent for its long history and its wide application. Our results, however, suggest that the classical Foldy-Wouthuysen model is superior as it is qualitatively in better agreement with the quantum mechanical Dirac equation. In ultra strong laser setups at parameter regimes where effects of the Stern-Gerlach force become relevant also radiation reaction effects are expected to set in. We incorporate radiation reaction classically via the Landau-Lifshitz equation and demonstrate that although radiation reaction effects can have a significant effect on the electron trajectory, the Frenkel model and the classical Foldy-Wouthuysen model remain distinguishable also if radiation reaction effects are taken into account. Our calculations are also suitable to verify the Landau-Lifshitz equation for the radiation reaction of electrons and other spin one-half particles. 1. Thomas, L. H., “I. The kinematics of an electron with an axis,” The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 3(13), 1–22 (1927). 2. Bargmann, V., Michel, L., and Telegdi, V. L., “Precession of the polarization of particles moving in a homogeneous electromagnetic field,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 2(10), 435–436 (1959). 3. Frenkel, J., “Die Elektrodynamik des rotierenden Elektrons,” Z. Phys. 37(4–5), 243–262 (1926). 4. Frenkel, J., “Spinning electrons,” Nature (London) 117(2949), 653–654 (1926). 5. Silenko, A. J., “Foldy-Wouthyusen transformation and semiclassical limit for relativistic particles in strong external fields,” Phys. Rev. A 77(1), 012116 (2008). 6. Wen, M., Bauke, H., and Keitel, C. H., “Identifying the Stern-Gerlach force of classical electron dynamics,” Sci. Rep. 6, 31624 (2016). 7. Wen, M., Keitel, C. H., and Bauke, H., “Spin one-half particles in strong electromagnetic fields: spin effects and radiation reaction,” arXiv:1610.08951 (2016).

Paper Details

Date Published: 29 June 2017
PDF: 2 pages
Proc. SPIE 10241, Research Using Extreme Light: Entering New Frontiers with Petawatt-Class Lasers III, 102410C (29 June 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2270575
Show Author Affiliations
Heiko Bauke, Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Germany)
Meng Wen, Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Germany)
Christoph H. Keitel, Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10241:
Research Using Extreme Light: Entering New Frontiers with Petawatt-Class Lasers III
Georg Korn; Luis O. Silva, Editor(s)

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