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Lectures on Quantum Field Theory- Ashok Das

# Lectures on Quantum Field Theory- Ashok Das

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11/01/2014

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The Dirac equation, written in the Hamiltonian form, is given by

i ∂ψ

∂t = Hψ =

−iα·∇+βm

ψ.

(2.72)

Taking the Hermitian conjugate of this equation, we obtain

−i ∂ψ

∂t = ψ iα·←−∇+βm),

(2.73)

where the gradient is assumed to act on ψ. Multiplying (2.72) with

ψ on the left and (2.73) with ψ on the right and subtracting the

second from the ﬁrst, we obtain

∂ψ

∂t +i ∂ψ

∂t ψ =−i

ψα·∇ψ + (∇ψ)·αψ

,

or, i ∂

∂t (ψψ) =−i∇·

ψαψ

,

or, ∂

∂t (ψψ) =−∇·

ψαψ

.

(2.74)

This is the continuity equation for the probability current density

associated with the Dirac equation and we note that we can identify

2.4 Continuity equation

45

ρ = ψψ = probability density,

J = ψαψ = probability current density,

(2.75)

to write the continuity equation as

∂ρ

∂t =−∇·J.

(2.76)

This suggests that we can write the current four vector as

= (ρ,J) = (ψψ,ψαψ),

(2.77)

so that the continuity equation can be written in the manifestly co-

variant form

∂µJµ

= 0.

(2.78)

This, in fact, shows that the probability density, ρ, is the time com-

ponent of jµ

(see (2.77)) and, therefore, must transform like the time

coordinate under a Lorentz transformation. (We are, of course, yet

to show that jµ

transforms like a four vector which we will do in the

next chapter.) On the other hand, the total probability

P =

d3

xρ =

d3

ψ,

(2.79)

is a constant independent of any particular Lorentz frame. It is worth

recalling that we have already used this Lorentz transformation prop-

erty of ρ in deﬁning the normalization of the wave function.

An alternative and more covariant way of deriving the continuity

iγµ

∂µ−m

ψ = 0,

(2.80)

and note that the Hermitian conjugate of ψ satisﬁes

46

2 Solutions of the Dirac equation

ψ −i(γµ

)←−

∂µ−m

= 0.

(2.81)

Multiplying this equation with γ0

on the right and using the fact

that (γ0

)2

=½ , we obtain

ψ

−iγ0

(γµ

)γ0←−

∂µ−m) = 0,

or, ψ

−iγµ←−

∂µ−m

= 0,

(2.82)

where we have used the property of the gamma matrices that (for

µ = 0,1,2,3)

γ0

γµ

γ0

= (γµ

),

γ0

(γµ

)γ0

= γµ

.

(2.83)

Multiplying (2.80) with ψ on the left and (2.82) with ψ on the right

and subtracting the second from the ﬁrst, we obtain

i

ψγµ

∂µψ +ψγµ←−

∂µψ

= 0,

or, i∂µ

ψγµ

ψ

= 0,

or, ∂µ

ψγµ

ψ

= 0.

(2.84)

This is, in fact, the covariant continuity equation and we can identify

= ψγµ

ψ.

(2.85)

Note from the deﬁnition in (2.85) that

J0

= ψγ0

ψ = ψγ0

γ0

ψ = ψψ = ρ,

J = ψγψ = ψγ0

γψ = ψαψ,

(2.86)

which is what we had derived earlier in (2.77).

2.5 Dirac’s hole theory

47

Let me conclude this discussion by noting that although the Dirac

equation has both positive and negative energy solutions, because it

is a ﬁrst order equation (particularly in the time derivative), the

probability density is independent of time derivative much like the

Schr¨odinger equation. Consequently, the probability density, as we

have seen explicitly in (2.38) and (2.40), can be deﬁned to be positive

deﬁnite even in the presence of negative energy solutions. This is

rather diﬀerent from the case of the Klein-Gordon equation that we

have studied in chapter 1.

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