We consider the Scharnhorst effect (anomalous photon propagation in the Casimir vacuum) at oblique incidence, calculating both photon speed and polarization states as functions of angle. The analysis is performed in the framework of nonlinear electrodynamics and we show that many features of the situation can be extracted solely on the basis of symmetry considerations. Although birefringence is common in nonlinear electrodynamics it is not universal; in particular, we verify that the Casimir vacuum is not birefringent at any incidence angle. On the other hand, the group velocity is typically not equal to the phase velocity, though the distinction vanishes for special directions or if one is only working to second order in the fine structure constant. We obtain an “effective metric” that is subtly different from previous results. The disagreement is due to the way that “polarization sums” are implemented in the extant literature, and we demonstrate that a fully consistent polarization sum must be implemented via a bootstrap procedure using the effective metric one is attempting to define. Furthermore, in the case of birefringence, we show that the polarization sum technique is intrinsically an approximation.

Scharnhorst effect at oblique incidence

SONEGO, Sebastiano;
2001

Abstract

We consider the Scharnhorst effect (anomalous photon propagation in the Casimir vacuum) at oblique incidence, calculating both photon speed and polarization states as functions of angle. The analysis is performed in the framework of nonlinear electrodynamics and we show that many features of the situation can be extracted solely on the basis of symmetry considerations. Although birefringence is common in nonlinear electrodynamics it is not universal; in particular, we verify that the Casimir vacuum is not birefringent at any incidence angle. On the other hand, the group velocity is typically not equal to the phase velocity, though the distinction vanishes for special directions or if one is only working to second order in the fine structure constant. We obtain an “effective metric” that is subtly different from previous results. The disagreement is due to the way that “polarization sums” are implemented in the extant literature, and we demonstrate that a fully consistent polarization sum must be implemented via a bootstrap procedure using the effective metric one is attempting to define. Furthermore, in the case of birefringence, we show that the polarization sum technique is intrinsically an approximation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11390/857777
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