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The Arahanov-Bohm Effect

What is the AB effect? – The AB effect is a purely quantum mechanical
effect that arises when we treat vector potentials (such as magnetism and
electrical fields) as physical entities, not simply mathematical constructs.
It gives an insight into the physical reality of fields and their associated
potentials and how we should think of them. It also gives strong
theoretical evidence that gauge fields are physically real, a phenomena
which has now been largely accepted in modern physics due to strong
experimental evidence.

The classical picture.
Maxwell’s laws give a great picture into the classical electromagnetic
laws, but distinguishes between fields and vector potentials. They state
that fields are physical where as vector potentials are merely
mathematical constructs.

∇ X E=

∇ ∙ B=0

∇ × H=


−∂ B

∇ ∙ D= ρV

Mechanics are governed by what is known as a “lagrangian” given by:


m 2
´x −qV ( x ) +q ´x i A i(x )
2 i


Which is invariant under a gauge transformation.

Berry phase
So, if we put a charge particle in a box, and move it through a region
containing magnetic flux, the wave function of the particle will vary
around the path. If the trajectory of the particle is a complete path we
arrive at the condition of:

A . dr= Φ

In order to begin discussing what effect a magnetic or electric field will have a on a particle in the quantum regime we need to return to an equation which has helped physicists tackle quantum mechanic problems for nearly 100 years: The Schrodinger equation.Which later allowed Arahanov and Bohm to come up with the theory behind the AB effect. . it is clear to see that no flux needs to be outside the solenoid for a vector potential to be present. Quiz Time. the group will be asked to sketch an experimental set up in which they think you could measure a phase difference between a coherent beam of electrons that has been split. In this case it is: H= m ( p−qA )2 +qV 2 Magnetic flux of a solenoid. Prize for best/closest attempt. The flux of a solenoid is given by the expression: ∅=BA and the vector potential. Individually. The simplest way of doing this is to determine the Hamiltonian of an EM field acting on a charged particle. If one were to make an infinite solenoid. Schrodinger’s equation in the EM picture. The simplest way of observing the AB effect is to use a magnetic solenoid and pass electrons either side of the enclosed flux. A Φ =ϕ/2 πρ where ρ is the radius from the center of the solenoid .

electrons are constrained to move in a circular path of radius r in the x-y plane. And as we can see by doing this we can alter the wavefunction. which could have profound quantum mechanical effects. by changing the flux inside a solenoid. and thus the vector potential we can change the phase of the charged particle. which results in the “canonical momentum”.Infinite solenoid experient into the AB effect. ´ qR A =L + p=m R2 ϕ+ ϕ z q Φ 2π We must now replace the canonical momentum to see energy and angular momentum quantization effects: [ 1 q E= nℏ− Φ 2 2π 2mR ' n and ] 2 . Bound state experiment. In the bound state experiment. To observe this we need to substitute the vector potential. The phase acquired by a charged particle as it passes through a region of a vector potential is given by the equation: Δ ϕ= q A ∙ dr ℏ∫ And a change in wave-function given by: ( ℏq Φ)+ψ ] ψ=[φ A exp i B As we can see.

So according to: [ ( ℏq Φ )+ψ ] ψ= ψ A exp i B If we alter the phase of the electron linearly by changing the vector potential it experiences near the solenoid. the wavefunction of the particle will oscillate as a function of magnetic flux. it is well known that the conductance through a conductor is strongly linked to the wave function of the charge carrier. .Lz =nℏ− q Φ 2π This effect vanishes if the following conditions are met: Φ=k Φ0 Where Φ0 = Φ0 is given by. in this case an electron. This allows us to change the conductance. inside the loop is an isolated region of magnetic flux. A simple way of doing this is by using a loop of wire with contacts on either side. This becomes fairly apparent on how we can exploit this fact to set up an AB effect experiment. 2 πℏ q Experiments into the AB effect. In quantum transport experiments. It is clear that a change in phase of an electron will make a change in wavefunction for an electron. a fact which is exploited in quantum transport and AB effect experiments.

This was done by calculating the effective radius of the conduction loop based on peaks in the graphs. Thus. no theory can yet explain this phenomena. and two to measure voltage. It was also found that many of the number of orbiting loops is suppressed. according to Aharanov and Bohm we can change it’s corresponding conductance through a conductor or semi conductor. The AB effect was first proposed in 1959 by Aharanov and Bohm. and hence a change in phase can alter a change in wave function. 4 contacts were used.Bachtold et al 1999 In this paper. with the magnetic field applied parallel to the tube. in which they hypothesised that the phase of a particle is linked to the wave function. . this was found to be 8. two for current.1nm which agrees well with the radius measured via AFM of 8±0.7±0. however. A measured phase difference of ∆ ϕ=2 π 2e hΦ was observed for electrons travelling in opposite paths around the tube. It was found that electrons tended to only tunnel through the first shell. and electrons being unable to jump across to next cylinder.8nm. Summary The effect of vector potentials in the absence of a corresponding field on charged particles is strongly rooted in quantum mechanics. by altering the phase of a charged particle. as some sheets of graphene are insulating. carbon nanotubes were used to study the AB effect in conductors. The study of quantum transport strongly links the conductance of a charged particle and it’s corresponding quantum state. Which is less than the average value of r≤5nm.