How do the momentum and spin of negative energy electrons (particles in the Dirac sea) and positrons (holes in the Dirac sea) differ? I just know that negative energy electrons and positrons have different charges. I would like to know more about their momentum and spin. Do they have the same momentum with opposite signs?


1 Answer 1


Electrons and positrons can each have any momentum or spin. It is when you demand that the total momentum and spin of a system of electrons and positrons is, for example, zero that there is a relation.

Forget the Dirac sea. As an explanation of positrons it is a flawed concept. As an explanation of positively charged holes in matter, it is a brilliant idea.

  • $\begingroup$ What is the difference between positively charged holes and positrons? $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2021 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ Holes describe what happens if an electron is missing from a many electron system. Positrons are positively charged point particles. $\endgroup$
    – my2cts
    Feb 22, 2021 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ And what is the difference between positively charged holes in the Dirac sea and positrons? Thanks for your patience $\endgroup$ Feb 22, 2021 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ @TomášKubalík Positron is a fundamental/elementary particle. Holes are a description for lack of electrons in many-electron systems. They are not fundamental particles or even a particle. $\endgroup$
    – newera
    Feb 22, 2021 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @TomasKubalik The difference is that there is no Dirac sea. Even if there were, holes in it would not behave as positrons, just like holes in (semi)conductors for example have quite different effective mass from electrons. And why would an electron not also be a hole, in a sea of occupied positron orbitals? $\endgroup$
    – my2cts
    Feb 22, 2021 at 21:30

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