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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis thesis is a guide to a selection of the author's published work that connect and contribute to understanding the vacuum of quantum electrodynamics in strong, prescribed electromagnetic fields. This theme is elaborated over the course of two chapters: The first chapter sets the context, defining the relevant objects and conditions of the study and reviewing established knowledge upon which this study builds. The second chapter organizes and explains important results appearing in the published work. The papers 1. (Labun and Rafelski, 2009) "Vacuum Decay Time in Strong External Fields" 2. (Labun and Rafelski, 2010a) "Dark Energy Simulacrum in Nonlinear Electrodynamics" 3. (Labun and Rafelski, 2010b) "QED Energy-Momentum Trace as a Force in Astrophysics" 4. (Labun and Rafelski, 2010c) "Strong Field Physics: Probing Critical Acceleration and Inertia with Laser Pulses and Quark-Gluon Plasma" 5. (Labun and Rafelski, 2010d) "Vacuum Structure and Dark Energy" 6. (Labun and Rafelski, 2011) "Spectra of Particles from Laser-Induced Vacuum Decay" are presented in their published format as appendices. Related literature is cited throughout the body where it directly supports the content of this overview; more extensive references are found within the attached papers. This study begins with the first non-perturbative result in quantum electrodynamics, a result obtained by Heisenberg and Euler (1936) for the energy of a zero-particle state in a prescribed, long-wavelength electromagnetic field. The resulting Euler-Heisenberg effective potential generates a nonlinear theory of electromagnetism and exhibits the ability of the electrical fields to decay into electronpositron pairs. Context for phenomena arising from the Euler-Heisenberg effective potential is established by considering the energy-momentum tensor of a general nonlinear electromagnetic theory. The mass of a field configuration is defined, and I discuss two of its consequences pertinent to efforts to observe vacuum decay. I develop a method for non-perturbative evaluation of a trace component of the energymomentum tensor and discuss its significance and consequences. I study the effect of the energy-momentum trace as part of a Euler-Heisenberg-generated modification to the Lorentz force. Modifications of the energy-momentum tensor from the Maxwell theory are evaluated numerically and compared to those arising from Born-Infeld electromagnetism and the Euler-Heisenberg effective potential for a scalar electron. Finally, I explore how this study guides investigation into how vacuum structure can generate the cosmological dark energy.
Degree ProgramGraduate College