Bouncing Dirac particles: compatibility between MIT boundary conditions and Thomas precession
Department of Physics, The West University of Timişoara, Timişoara, Romania
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Accepted: 15 December 2016
Published online: 18 January 2017
We consider the reflection of a Dirac plane wave on a perfectly reflecting plane described by chiral MIT boundary conditions and determine the rotation of the spin in the reflected component of the wave. We solve the analogous problem for a classical particle using the evolution of the spin defined by the Thomas precession and make a comparison with the quantum result. We find that the rotation axes of the spin in the two problems coincide only for a vanishing chiral angle, in which case the rotation angles coincide in the nonrelativistic limit, and remain remarkably close in the relativistic regime. The result shows that in the nonrelativistic limit the interaction between the spin and a reflecting surface with nonchiral boundary conditions is completely contained in the Thomas precession effect, in conformity with the fact that these boundary conditions are equivalent to an infinite repulsive scalar potential outside the boundary. By contrast, in the ultrarelativistic limit the rotation angle in the quantum problem remains finite, while in the classical one the rotation angle diverges. We comment on the possible implications of this discrepancy on the validity of the Mathisson-Papapetrou-Dixon equations at large accelerations.
© Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2017