Relativistic electron vortices

Article English OPEN
Barnett, Stephen M. (2017)

The desire to push recent experiments on electron vortices to higher energies has led to some theoretical \ud difficulties. In particular the simple and very successful picture of phase vortices of vortex charge $\ell$ \ud associated with $\ell\hbar$ units of orbital angular momentum per electron has been challenged by the facts \ud that: (i) the spin and orbital angular momentum are not separately conserved for a Dirac electron, which suggests\ud that the existence of a spin-orbit coupling will complicate matters and (ii) that the velocity of a Dirac electron \ud is not simply the gradient of a phase as it is in the Schr\"{o}dinger theory suggesting that, perhaps, \ud electron vortices might not exist at a fundamental level. We resolve these difficulties by showing that\ud electron vortices do indeed exist in the relativistic theory and show that the charge of such a vortex is\ud simply related to a conserved orbital part of the total angular momentum, closely related to the familiar \ud situation for the orbital angular momentum of a photon.
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