Foldy-Wouthuysen Transformation, Scalar Potentials and Gravity


We show that care is required in formulating the nonrelativistic limit of generalized Dirac Hamiltonians which describe particles and antiparticles interacting with static electric and/or gravitational fields. The Dirac-Coulomb and the Dirac-Schwarzschild Hamiltonians, and the corrections to the Dirac equation in a non-inertial frame, according to general relativity, are used as example cases in order to investigate the unitarity of the standard and 'chiral' approaches to the Foldy-Wouthuysen transformation, and spurious parity-breaking terms. Indeed, we find that parity-violating terms can be generated by unitary pseudo-scalar transformations ('chiral' Foldy-Wouthuysen transformations). Despite their interesting algebraic properties, we find that 'chiral' Foldy-Wouthuysen transformations change fundamental symmetry properties of the Hamiltonian and do not conserve the physical interpretation of the operators. Supplementing the discussion, we calculate the leading terms in the Foldy-Wouthuysen transformation of the Dirac Hamiltonian with a scalar potential (of the 1/r-form and of the confining radially symmetric linear form), and obtain compact expressions for the leading higher-order corrections to the Dirac Hamiltonian in a non-inertial rotating reference frame ('Mashhoon term').



Keywords and Phrases

Approximation Methods; Cosmology; Field Theory; Fundamental Problems And General Formalism; General Relativity And Gravitation; Quantum Electrodynamics; Relativistic Wave Equations

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Article - Journal

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Publication Date

01 Jan 2014