Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I noticed that the Aharonov–Bohm effect describes a phase factor given by $e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}\int_{\partial\gamma}q A_\mu dx^\mu}$. I also recognize that electrons in a periodic potential gain a phase factor given by $e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}k_ix^i}=e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}\int k_idx^i}$. I recall that $k_i$ plays a role analogous to momentum in solid state physics. I also recall that the canonical momentum operator is $P_\mu=-i\hbar\partial_\mu-qA_\mu$. Notice that when you operate with the momentum operator on a Bloch electron, $\psi(x)=u(x)e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}k_ix^i}$, you get $e^{\frac{i}{\hbar}k_ix^i}(-i\hbar\partial_i+k_i)u(x)$.

My question is whether a parallel can be drawn between the crystal momentum, $k$, and the vector potential $A$. It seems they play a similar role quantum mechanically, but I have never seen Bloch's theorem described in terms of vector potentials. I suppose one does not even need a nontrivial vector potential for Bloch's theorem to hold. Still, crystal momentum and the vector potential play very similar roles in phase factors and I wonder whether there is any deeper meaning to that.

share|cite|improve this question

Because crystal momentum and the vector potential appear together, introducing the vector potential changes the conserved quantity from just crystal momentum to crystal momentum + electromagnetic momentum.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.