Electron with orbital angular momentum in a strong laser wave

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    Abstract

    Electrons carrying orbital angular momentum (OAM) have recently been discovered theoretically and obtained experimentally, which opens up possibilities for using them in high-energy physics. We consider such a twisted electron moving in the external field of a plane electromagnetic wave and study how this field influences the electron's OAM. Being motivated by the development of high-power lasers, we focus our attention on a classically strong-field regime for which e2A2̄/(me2c 4)≳1. It is shown that, along with the well-known "plane-wave" Volkov solution, the Dirac equation also has the "non-plane-wave" solutions, which possess OAM and spin-orbit coupling and generalize the free-electron's Bessel states. Motion of an electron with OAM in a circularly polarized laser wave reveals a twofold character: the wave-packet center moves along a classical helical trajectory with some quantum transverse broadening (due to OAM) existing even for a free electron. Using the twisted states, we calculate the electron's total angular momentum and predict its shift in the strong-field regime, which is analogous to the well-known shifts of the electron's momentum and mass (and to a less-known shift of its spin) in intense fields. Since the electron's effective angular momentum is conserved in a plane wave, as well as in some more general field configurations, we discuss several possibilities for accelerating nonrelativistic twisted electrons by using focused and combined electromagnetic fields.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number062102
    JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
    Volume86
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2012

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    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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