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Symmetry 2018, 10(12), 763; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym10120763

On the Electric-Magnetic Duality Symmetry: Quantum Anomaly, Optical Helicity, and Particle Creation

1
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-4001, USA
2
Centro de Astrofísica e Gravitacâo—CENTRA, Departamento de Física, Instituto Superior Técnico—IST, Universidade de Lisboa, 1049 Lisboa, Portugal
3
Departamento de Física Teórica and IFIC, Centro Mixto Universidad de Valencia-CSIC, Facultad de Física, Universidad de Valencia, 46100 Burjassot, Valencia, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 November 2018 / Revised: 11 December 2018 / Accepted: 13 December 2018 / Published: 17 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Symmetry in Electromagnetism)
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Abstract

It is well known that not every symmetry of a classical field theory is also a symmetry of its quantum version. When this occurs, we speak of quantum anomalies. The existence of anomalies imply that some classical Noether charges are no longer conserved in the quantum theory. In this paper, we discuss a new example for quantum electromagnetic fields propagating in the presence of gravity. We argue that the symmetry under electric-magnetic duality rotations of the source-free Maxwell action is anomalous in curved spacetimes. The classical Noether charge associated with these transformations accounts for the net circular polarization or the optical helicity of the electromagnetic field. Therefore, our results describe the way the spacetime curvature changes the helicity of photons and opens the possibility of extracting information from strong gravitational fields through the observation of the polarization of photons. We also argue that the physical consequences of this anomaly can be understood in terms of the asymmetric quantum creation of photons by the gravitational field. View Full-Text
Keywords: electric-magnetic duality symmetry; quantum anomalies; optical helicity; electromagnetic polarization; particle creation electric-magnetic duality symmetry; quantum anomalies; optical helicity; electromagnetic polarization; particle creation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Agulló, I.; Del Río, A.; Navarro-Salas, J. On the Electric-Magnetic Duality Symmetry: Quantum Anomaly, Optical Helicity, and Particle Creation. Symmetry 2018, 10, 763.

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