Questions tagged [dirac-equation]

A fully relativistic (Lorentz covariant) description, first put forward by Paul Dirac in 1928, of the first quantized, spin one half fermion with nonzero mass. Physical notions to do with this equation include the Dirac sea, Dirac hole theory, the Klein Paradox and the fine structure of the Hydrogen spectrum.

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39
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5answers
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Why fermions have a first order (Dirac) equation and bosons a second order one?

Is there a deep reason for a fermion to have a first order equation in the derivative while the bosons have a second order one? Does this imply deep theoretical differences (like space phase dimesion ...
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What is the difference between a spinor and a vector or a tensor?

Why do we call a 1/2 spin particle satisfying the Dirac equation a spinor, and not a vector or a tensor?
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Dimension of Dirac $\gamma$ matrices

While studying the Dirac equation, I came across this enigmatic passage on p. 551 in From Classical to Quantum Mechanics by G. Esposito, G. Marmo, G. Sudarshan regarding the $\gamma$ matrices: $$\...
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What does “Relativistic” mean in Quantum Mechanical Terms?

I was reading recently how the compatibility of quantum mechanics with special relativity was initially a problem for physicists and then Dirac succeeded in formulating a relativistic, quantum-...
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Introduction to spinors in physics, and their relation to representations

First, I shall say that I am familiar with the intuitive idea that a spinor is like a vector (or tensor) that only transforms "up to a sign" when acted on by the rotation group. I have even rotated a ...
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Is there an algebraic approach for the topological boundary (defect) states?

There are many free fermion systems that possess topological edge/boundary states. Examples include quantum Hall insulators and topological insulators. No matter chiral or non-chiral, 2D or 3D, ...
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Why would Klein-Gordon describe spin-0 scalar field while Dirac describe spin-1/2?

The derivation of both Klein-Gordon equation and Dirac equation is due the need of quantum mechanics (or to say more correctly, quantum field theory) to adhere to special relativity. However, excpet ...
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Classical Fermion and Grassmann number

In the theory of relativistic wave equations, we derive the Dirac equation and Klein-Gordon equation by using representation theory of Poincare algebra. For example, in this paper http://arxiv.org/...
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Interpretation of Dirac equation states for moving electron

I try to understand a physical interpretation of the four components of the Dirac 4-spinor for a moving electron (in the simplest case, a plane wave). There is a very good question and answer about ...
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Interpretation of Dirac equation states

In Pauli theory the components of two-component wavefunction were interpreted as probability amplitudes of finding the particle in particular spin state. This seems easy to understand. But when ...
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Is it true that the Schrödinger equation only applies to spin-1/2 particles?

I recently came across a claim that the Schrödinger equation only describes spin-1/2 particles. Is this true? I realize that the question may be ill-posed as some would consider the general ...
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Charge conjugation in Dirac equation

According to Dirac equation we can write, \begin{equation} \left(i\gamma^\mu( \partial_\mu +ie A_\mu)- m \right)\psi(x,t) = 0 \end{equation} We seek an equation where $e\rightarrow -e $ and which ...
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Is Zitterbewegung an artefact of single-particle theory?

I have seen a number of articles on Zitterbewegung claiming searches for it such as this one: http://arxiv.org/abs/0810.2186. Others such as the so-called ZBW interpretation by Hestenes seemingly ...
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How to prove $(\gamma^\mu)^\dagger=\gamma^0\gamma^\mu\gamma^0$?

Studying the basics of spin-$\frac{1}{2}$ QFT, I encountered the gamma matrices. One important property is $(\gamma^5)^\dagger=\gamma^5$, the hermicity of $\gamma^5$. After some searching, I stumbled ...
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Interpretation of Dirac Spinor components in Chiral Representation?

I failed to find any book or pdf that explains clearly how we can interpret the different components of a Dirac spinor in the chiral representation and I'm starting to get somewhat desperate. This is ...
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What was missing in Dirac's argument to come up with the modern interpretation of the positron?

When Dirac found his equation for the electron $(-i\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu+m)\psi=0$ he famously discovered that it had negative energy solutions. In order to solve the problem of the stability of the ...
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Dirac equation in curved space-time

I have seen the Dirac equation in curved space-time written as $$[i\bar{\gamma}^{\mu}\frac{\partial}{\partial x^{\mu}}-i\bar{\gamma}^{\mu}\Gamma_{\mu}-m]\psi=0 $$ This $-i\bar{\gamma}^{\mu}\Gamma_{\...
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What is negative about negative energy states in the Dirac equation?

This question is a follow up to What was missing in Dirac's argument to come up with the modern interpretation of the positron? There still is some confusion in my mind about the so-called "...
13
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How did we know that the Dirac equation describes the electron but not the proton?

I'm suddenly getting confused on what should be a very simple point. Recall that the $g$-factor of a particle is defined as $$\mu = \frac{ge}{2m} L$$ where $L$ is the spin angular momentum. For any ...
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Making sense of the canonical anti-commutation relations for Dirac spinors

When doing scalar QFT one typically imposes the famous 'canonical commutation relations' on the field and canonical momentum: $$[\phi(\vec x),\pi(\vec y)]=i\delta^3 (\vec x-\vec y)$$ at equal times ($...
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Klein paradox for bosons and fermions

I am reading this paper about the Klein paradox, i.e. transmission of relativistic particles incident on a potential step of height $V_0 > E + mc^2 > 2mc^2$ with $E$ the energy of the incident ...
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Why do we need $2^\text{nd}$ quantization of the Dirac equation

As a Mathematician reading about the Dirac equation on the internet, leaves me with a great deal of confusion about it. So let me start with its definition: The Dirac equation is given by, $$ i \hbar ...
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Is there a 2D manifold on which the Dirac equation has a zero mode?

The two-dimensional (2D) Dirac equation $(\sigma_1iD_1+\sigma_2 iD_2)\psi=E\psi$ admits zero mode ($E=0$) solutions on a non-trivial gauge background, such as the zero mode at the core of a U(1) gauge ...
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How is the Dirac adjoint generalized?

I am wondering how one can generalize the Dirac adjoint to flat "spacetimes" of arbitrary dimension and signature. To be more specific, a standard situation would be to consider 4 dimensional ...
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How did Paul Dirac predict the existence of antiproton?

The existence of the antiproton with -1 electric charge, opposite to the +1 electric charge of the proton, was predicted by Paul Dirac in his 1933 Nobel Prize lecture. Quotation by Wikipedia. ...
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Lorentz transformation of the Spinor Field

I'm reading chapter 3 of Peskin and Schroeder and am stuck on page 43 of P&S. They have defined the Lorentz generators in the spinor representation as: \begin{equation} S^{\mu \nu} = \frac{i}{4}[\...
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Why are usually 4x4 gamma matrices used? [duplicate]

As far as I understand gamma matrices are a representation of the Dirac algebra and there is a representation of the Lorentz group that can be expressed as $$S^{\mu \nu} = \frac{1}{4} \left[ \gamma^\...
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Majorana mass vs Dirac Mass

Why is it said that the Dirac mass term conserves the fermion number but the Majorana mass term does not? Can someone explain this mathematically? Which breakdown of symmetry is responsible for ...
11
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Is it possible to define off-shell spinors?

For the sake of concreteness, let us consider the Dirac spinor $u_s(\boldsymbol p)$. Is it possible to covariantly extend this to a function $u_s(p)$, such that it matches $u_s(\boldsymbol p)$ on the ...
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Question about Majorana fermions

I have a few questions about Majorana fermions. What is Majorana mass? Does it have a different value compared to the mass in the Dirac equation for an arbitrary fermion? How exactly do they differ? ...
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Is the Dirac Lagrangian Hermitian?

I'm wondering of the Dirac Lagrangian density $$\mathcal{L} =\overline{\psi}(-i\gamma^\mu \partial_\mu +m)\psi $$ is an hermitian operator, since upon complex conjugating one gets $$\mathcal{L}^\...
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Does Dirac's idea of filled negative energy states make sense?

Please bear with me a bit on this. I know my title is controversial, but it's serious and detailed question about the explanation Dirac attached to his amazing equations, not the equations themselves. ...
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Is there a “square root” version of the Einstein field equation?

It is well known that the Klein-Gordon equation have a kind of "square root" version : the Dirac equation. The Maxwell equations can also be formulated in a Dirac way. It is also well known that ...
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Is the Dirac equation equivalent to the Klein-Gordon equation for its left handed component?

The Dirac equation $$(i\gamma^a\partial_a - m)\psi=0\tag{0}$$ is given by a first order operator acting on a Dirac spinor, which is the direct sum of a left handed spinor and a right handed spinor. ...
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Exact energies of spherical harmonic oscillator in Dirac equation

The potential is given by: $$ V(r) = {1\over 2} \omega^2 r^2 $$ and we are solving the radial Dirac equation (in atomic units): $$ c{d P(r)\over d r} + c {\kappa\over r} P(r) + Q(r) (V(r)-2mc^2) = E Q(...
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How to arrive at the Dirac Equation from Poincaré Algebra?

For the case of Galilean group, the time translation is given by the generator $H$. Hence, $$\mid\psi(t)\rangle\to \mid\psi(t+s)\rangle =e^{-iHs}\mid\psi(t)\rangle$$ Which immediately is the ...
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Determinant of Dirac operator in flat space?

How would you evaluate \begin{equation}|iD\!\!\!\!/-m|\end{equation} Where $D_{\mu}=\partial_{\mu}-ieA_{\mu}$. I have an idea of how to do this without the gauge field, because it's essentially \...
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Geometrical interpretation of the Dirac equation

Is there an intuitive geometrical picture behind the Dirac equation, and the gamma matrices that it uses? I know the geometric algebra is a Clifford algebra. Can the properties of geometric algebra, ...
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Angular Momentum of the Dirac field

I'm going through the Peskin & Shroeder's discussion on the Dirac field, and I am struggling with a couple of claims they make about angular momentum. First of all, the angular momentum operator ...
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Can we make the Dirac representation a gauge theory?

I'm looking for comments and references about an idea : gauging the Dirac representation of the Dirac matrices. What kind of field interaction would it give ? Specifically, the Dirac equation is ...
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Why is the Dirac equation not used for calculations?

From what I understand the Dirac equation is supposed to be an improvement on the Schrödinger equation in that it is consistent with relativity theory. Yet all methods I have encountered for doing ...
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Dirac equation as Hamiltonian system

Let us consider Dirac equation $$(i\gamma^\mu\partial_\mu -m)\psi ~=~0$$ as a classical field equation. Is it possible to introduce Poisson bracket on the space of spinors $\psi$ in such a way that ...
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How does canonical quantization work with Grassmann variables?

Every quantum field theory textbook I've encountered seems to have the same logical oversight, because of the particular order they cover topics. First, the books introduce the Dirac Lagrangian, $$\...
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Why aren't purely Dirac neutrinos ruled out?

It is common knowledge that in neutrinos can be Dirac particles without any Majorana masses as given a mass matrix, \begin{equation} \left( \begin{array}{cc}\nu _L & \nu _R \end{array} \right) \...
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Sign in front of QFT kinetic terms

I'd like to know if the sign in front of a kinetic term in QFT important. For the scalar field we conventionally write (in the $ + --- $ metric), \begin{equation} {\cal L} _{ kin} = \frac{1}{2} \...
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Are there negative energy states in QED?

I was reading Weinberg I, when I came upon the following statement$^1$ (slightly edited by me): \begin{align} (\not p+m)u=ie\not A\\ (\not p-m)v=ie\not A \tag{1} \end{align} The minus sign on ...
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Can we treat $\psi^{c}$ as a field independent from $\psi$?

When we derive the Dirac equation from the Lagrangian, $$ \mathcal{L}=\overline{\psi}i\gamma^{\mu}\partial_{\mu}\psi-m\overline{\psi}\psi, $$ we assume $\psi$ and $\overline{\psi}=\psi^{*^{T}}\gamma^{...
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Why is the trivial analogous expression for Feynman's checkerboard approach to Dirac's equation in 3+1 dimensions (as described below) not correct?

Feynman's checkerboard approach to Dirac's equation in 1+1 space says that a half spin particle can be assumed to be traveling at speed of light and switching directions only after discrete intervals ...
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Is there a reason why a relativistic quantum theory of a single fermion exists, but of a single scalar not?

When we try to construct the relativistic generalization of non-relativistic time dependent Schroedinger equation, there are at least two possible completions - Klein-Gordon equation and Dirac ...
8
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Dirac equation as canonical quantization?

First of all, I'm not a physicist, I'm mathematics phd student, but I have one elementary physical question and was not able to find answer in standard textbooks. Motivation is quite simple: let me ...