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Electromagnetism, Axions, and Topology: a first-order operator approach to constitutive responses provides greater freedom

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number043804
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>7/04/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number4
Number of pages18
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We show how the standard constitutive assumptions for the macroscopic Maxwell equations can be relaxed.
This is done by arguing that the Maxwellian excitation fields (D, H) should be dispensed with, on the grounds that they (a) cannot be measured, and (b) act solely as gauge potentials for the charge and current. In the resulting theory, it is only the links between the fields (E, B) and the charge and current (ρ, J ) that matter; and so we introduce appropriate linear operator equations that combine the Gauss and Maxwell-Ampère equations with the constitutive relations, eliminating (D, H). The result is that we can admit more types of electromagnetic media – notably, the new relations can allow coupling in the bulk to a homogeneous axionic material; in contrast to standard EM where any homogeneous axion-like field is completely decoupled in the bulk, and only accessible at boundaries. We also consider a wider context, including the role of topology, extended non-axionic constitutive parameters, and treatment of Ohmic currents. A range of examples including an axionic response material
is presented, including static electromagnetic scenarios, a possible metamaterial implementation, and how the transformation optics paradigm would be modified. Notably, these examples include one where topological considerations make it impossible to model using (D, H).

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© 2020 American Physical Society