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Pair Production and the Light-Front Vacuum
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Physics.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Dominated by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, vacuum is not quantum mechanically an empty void, i.e. virtual pairs of particles appear and disappear persistently. This nonlinearity subsequently provokes a number of phenomena which can only be practically observed by going to a high-intensity regime. Pair production beyond the so-called Sauter-Schwinger limit, which is roughly the field intensity threshold for pairs to show up copiously, is such a nonlinear vacuum phenomenon. From the viewpoint of Dirac's front form of Hamiltonian dynamics, however, vacuum turns out to be trivial. This triviality would suggest that Schwinger pair production is not possible. Of course, this is only up to zero modes. While the instant form of relativistic dynamics has already been at least theoretically well-played out, the way is still open for investigating the front form.

The aim of this thesis is to explore the properties of such a contradictory aspect of quantum vacuum in two different forms of relativistic dynamics and hence to investigate the possibility of finding a way to resolve this ambiguity. This exercise is largely based on the application of field quantization to light-front dynamics. In this regard, some concepts within strong field theory and light-front quantization which are fundamental to our survey have been introduced, the order of magnitude of a few important quantum electrodynamical quantities have been fixed and the basic information on a small number of nonlinear vacuum phenomena has been identified.

Light-front quantization of simple bosonic and fermionic systems, in particular, the light-front quantization of a fermion in a background electromagnetic field in (1+1) dimensions is given. The light-front vacuum appears to be trivial also in this particular case. Amongst all suggested methods to resolve the aforementioned ambiguity, the discrete light-cone quantization (DLCQ) method is applied to the Dirac equation in (1+1) dimensions. Furthermore, the Tomaras-Tsamis-Woodard (TTW) solution, which expresses a method to resolve the zero-mode issue, is also revisited. Finally, the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics is discussed and, as an alternative to TTW solution, it is proposed that the worldline approach in the light-front framework may shed light on different aspects of the TTW solution and give a clearer picture of the light-front vacuum and the pair production phenomenon on the light-front.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 90 p.
Keyword [en]
Strong-Field QED, Quantum Vacuum, Schwinger Pair Production Mechanism, Dirac Forms of Relativistic Dynamics, Light-front Quantization, Zero-mode Issue, DLCQ, Worldline Approach
National Category
Subatomic Physics
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-83444OAI: diva2:667211
Educational program
Master's Programme in Physics
2013-10-31, Fysikhuset, Bottenhavet, plan 2, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-11-30 Created: 2013-11-26 Last updated: 2013-11-30Bibliographically approved

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