Scientific article

Front Propagation in Evanescent Media

Published inAnnalen der Physik, vol. 7, no. 7-8, p. 602-617
Publication date1999

We investigate the time evolution of waves in evanescent media generated by a source within this medium and observed at some distance away from the location of the source. The aim is to find a velocity which describes a causal process and is thus, for a medium with relativistic dispersion, limited by the velocity of light. For a source with a sharp onset in time, the wave function consists of a forerunner generated by the onset of the source, and of a monochromatic front. The forerunner is dominated by a frequency which decreases with time, and the monochromatic front carries the oscillation frequency of the source into the evanescent medium. For a medium with Schrödinger-like dispersion the velocity of the front is infinite and the monochromatic front propagates with a velocity which is in agreement with the traversal time for tunneling. In the relativistic case the forerunners travel with the velocity of light and the velocity the monochromatic front is smaller than the velocity of light and only for special energies equal to the velocity of light. For sources with a sharp onset, the forerunners are not attenuated and in magnitude far exceed the monochromatic front. This renders the detection of the monochromatic front difficult. To avoid the different behavior of forerunners and monochromatic fronts, sources which are frequency-band limited can be considered or a short-time Fourier transform of the field at the observation point can be taken. Both discussions suggest that the traversal time can be determined only up to a factor of (1).

  • Traversal time for tunneling
  • Causality
  • Monochromatic fronts
Citation (ISO format)
BUTTIKER, Markus, THOMAS, H. Front Propagation in Evanescent Media. In: Annalen der Physik, 1999, vol. 7, n° 7-8, p. 602–617. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1521-3889(199812)7:7/8<602::AID-ANDP602>3.0.CO;2-G
ISSN of the journal0003-3804

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