The Aharonov–Bohm effect in a closed flux line
School of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, MK7 6AA, Milton Keynes, UK
Accepted: 15 May 2022
Published online: 30 May 2022
The Aharonov–Bohm (AB) effect was convincingly demonstrated using a micro-sized toroidal magnet but it is almost always explained using an infinitely-long solenoid or an infinitely-long flux line. The main reason for this is that the formal treatment of the AB effect considering a toroidal configuration turns out to be too cumbersome. But if the micro-sized toroidal magnet is modelled by a closed flux line of arbitrary shape and size then the formal treatment of the AB effect is exact, considerably simplified, and well-justified. Here we present such a treatment that covers in detail the electromagnetic, topological, and quantum-mechanical aspects of this effect. We demonstrate that the AB phase in a closed flux line is determined by a linking number and has the same form as the AB phase in an infinitely-long flux line which is determined by a winding number. We explicitly show that the two-slit interference shift associated with the AB effect in a closed flux line is the same as that associated with an infinitely-long flux line. We emphasise the topological nature of the AB phase in a closed flux line by demonstrating that this phase is invariant under deformations of the charge path, deformations of the closed flux line, simultaneous deformations of the charge path and the closed flux line, and the interchange between the charge path and the closed flux line. We also discuss the local and nonlocal interpretations of the AB effect in a closed flux line and introduce a non-singular gauge in which the vector potential vanishes in all space except on the surface surrounded by the closed flux line, implying that this vector potential is zero along the trajectory of the charged particle except on the crossing point where this trajectory intersects the surface bounded by the closed flux line, a result that questions the alleged physical significance of the vector potential and thereby the local interpretation of the AB effect.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2022