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Special Theory of Relativity for a Graded Index Fibre

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posted on 2023-04-04, 16:00 authored by Shinichi Saito
The speed of light ($c$) in a vacuum is independent on a choice of frames to describe the propagation, according to the theory of relativity. We consider how light is characterised in a material, where the speed of light is different from that in a vacuum due to the finite dielectric constant. The phase velocity in a material is smaller than $c$, such that the speed of a moving frame can be larger than the phase velocity, such that the frame can move faster than the speed of light in a material. Consequently, an unusual Doppler effect is expected, and the wavelength in the moving frame changes from the red-shift to the blue-shift upon increasing the speed of the frame. The corresponding energy of the light also changes sign from positive to negative, while momentum is always positive, leading to the changes of sings for the phase velocity and the helicity. In a graded index fibre, where the exact solution is available, even more complicated phenomena are expected, due to the finite effective mass of photons. Upon the increase of the energy gap, generated by optical confinements and optical orbital angular momentum, the effective mass of photons increases. If the gap is large enough, momentum starts to change the sign upon increasing the frame velocity, while the energy of photons is always positive. In this case, the phase velocity diverges if momentum is in agreement with the fame velocity. Contrary to the unusual behaviours of the phase velocity, the group velocity is always below $c$. This thought-experiment might be useful to consider the insight for the polarisation sate of light.

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