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Physical Review A

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Green's functions, Electromagnetic waves, Gauge fields (Physics)


Reciprocity in wave propagation usually refers to the symmetry of the Green's function under the interchange of the source and the observer coordinates, but this condition is not gauge invariant in quantum mechanics, a problem that is particularly significant in the presence of a vector potential. Several possible alternative criteria are given and analyzed with reference to different examples with nonzero magnetic fields and/or vector potentials, including the case of a multiply connected spatial domain. It is shown that the appropriate reciprocity criterion allows for specific phase factors separable into functions of the source and observer coordinates and that this condition is robust with respect to the addition of any scalar potential. In the Aharonov-Bohm effect, reciprocity beyond monoenergetic experiments holds only because of subsidiary conditions satisfied in actual experiments: the test charge is in units of e and the flux is produced by a condensate of particles with charge 2e.


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