This is not a duplicate. I am not asking about the connection between photons and EM waves nor wave particle duality.
I have read these questions:
where annav says:
Conceptually watching the build up of interference fringes from single photons in a two slit experiment might give you an intuition of how even though light is composed of individual elementary particles, photons, the classical wave pattern emerges when the ensemble becomes large.
where CuriusOne says in a comment:
Light doesn't ever behave like a particle or a wave. It behaves like a quantum field. People need to stop talking about it the way their great-grandfathers talked about it for a dozen years before Dirac wrote up with the correct explanation in the early 1930s! We have been over this wave-particle duality nonsense almost as long as we have been over the aether.
where fffred says:
In light propagation, oscillation does not mean any movement in space. It is the value of the electromagnetic field, at one given point in space, that oscillates. For electromagnetic waves, there is no matter or photons that go up and down. Instead, you have to imagine that there is a little arrow associated to each point in space: this little arrow is the electric field direction. Another arrow, at the same point, is the magnetic field. These two arrows change size and direction with time, and in fact they oscillate.
where annav says:
The electromagnetic wave is described by the solution of classical maxwell's equation which has a sinusoidal dependence for the electric and magnetic fields perpendicular to the direction of motion of the wave. It is called a wave for this reason and the frequency is the repetition rate of the sinusoidal pattern. A single photon has only a detection probability distribution that "waves", as explained above. It is not a wave.
where Bjornw says:
To clarify another part of your question - "what oscillates" - the answer is that the quantum amplitude for sending out the field correlations that build up the "photon" oscillates at the source, and this affects the destination. There is nothing "in between" that oscillates.
where WetSavannaAnimal says:
There is indeed a way wherein "one photon" can be thought of as a Maxwellian wave. So therefore one can construe the information contained in the Maxwellian fields as equivalent to the knowledge of the one photon state of the EM field. For every classical freespace solution to Maxwell's equations, there is a corresponding one-photon state and contrariwise.
So basically most of these answers say that photons are not waves, and nothing oscillates physically in space (3D) as the photon propagates in space. One says that there is a way where one photon can be thought of as a Maxwellian wave.
Now based on these, a photon should always propagate (in flat spacetime) in a straight (3D) line, no oscillation (physically in space), the photon itself does not oscillate as it propagates, just the field vectors.
Yet, we are talking about the photon traveling as a wave everywhere.
We are using these pictures to model the propagation of the EM field (that is coherently built up by photons) with this oscillating field.
where WetSavannaAnimal says:
Maxwell's equations exactly define the propagation of a lone photon in free space. The state of a photon can be defined by a vector valued state in Hilbert space and this vector valued state is a precise mathematical analogy of the E⃗ and H⃗ fields of a macroscopic, classical field.
Now as I understand, the Maxwell equations can describe a one photon state too, but it is not the photon itself physically that oscillates in space, it does not move up and down or in any direction other then the propagation. It is moving in a straight (3D) line.
Based on this, and the fact that photons are pointlike elementary particles, the propagation of the photon on the smallest scale is described by a straight 0 dimensional line, that has no thickness, and is completely straight (3D).
Thus when we say things like the photon is propagating as a wave, we use these pictures, we are using confusing statements, because the photon itself is just propagating in a straight line.
But this question has no answer basically stating yes or no.
where dmckee says:
So, no, nothing is moving off the line of the ray, but the because electric field is a vector the oscillation does have a direction associated with it (and therefore polarization makes sense).
So basically, nothing (not real photon) is moving off the straight (3D) line. It is just the static EM field components that oscillate, that we model with virtual photons.
Thus, the real photon moves in a straight line, and the virtual photons (that is just a model of the static field) oscillate.
So the photon is an excitation in the photon field, and that excitation propagates in a straight (3D) line, and the excitation does not oscillate itself.
- Do (real) photons oscillate or not and why do we still sometimes use the phrase the photon travels as a wave?