Qed and Relativity in Atomic Physics

  • Joseph Sucher
Part of the Nato ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 143)


My task in these lectures, set by the organizers, is to review basic concepts of quantum electrodynamics (QED) and to describe some applications of QED to problems of current interest in atomic physics in which relativistic effects are important. Since the subject had its beginnings almost sixty years ago, with Dirac’s quantization of the radiation field and his discovery of the relativistic wave equation for the electron, five hours is too small by at least an order of magnitude to do it even partial justice. In the review part, I hope to avoid displeasing some of the audience all of the time or all of the audience some of the time - not to mention all of the audience all of the time - by assuming only an average memory for things learned long ago by some of you but not much used, by taking shortcuts wherever possible and by emphasizing aspects which are either not well known or not discussed clearly in textbooks.


Dirac Equation Rydberg State Level Shift Transverse Photon Virtual Pair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    For an excellent discussion, see J.D. Bjorken and S.D. Drell, Relativistic Quantum Fields (McGraw-Hill Inc., New York, 1956), pp. 68–93.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    A.M. Sessler and H.M. Foley, Phys. Rev. 92, 1321 (1953).ADSGoogle Scholar
  3. See also J. Sucher and H.M. Foley, Phys. Rev. 95, 966 (1954).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 3.
    S. Weiskop and J. Sucher, U. of MD report, 1983 (unpublished).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    This section is based on the paper J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. D22, 348 (1980) and on later reviews and extensions described in (a) Proceedings of the Agronne Workshop on the Relativistic Theory of Atomic Structure, H.G. Berry, K.T. Cheng, W.K. Johnson and Y.-K. Kim, Eds. ANL-80-116 (Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, 1980); (b) Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute on Relativistic Effects in Atoms, Molecules and Solids, G. Malli, Ed. (Plenum, New York, (1982) and (c) Int. Jour. Quant. Chem. XXV, 3 (1984).MathSciNetADSGoogle Scholar
  6. For closely related work see M. Mittleman, Phys. Rev. A 24, 1167 (1981).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 5.
    J. Sucher, UMPP/86–29, to appear in Proceedings of the Atomic Theory Workshop on Relativity and QED Effects in Heavy Atoms, (National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, MD, May 1985); referred to as NBS Workshop 1985 hereafter.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    G.E. Brown and D.G. Ravenhall, Proc. Roy. Soc. London, Sec. A208, 552 (1951).MathSciNetADSzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 7.
    J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. Letters 55, 1033 (1985).MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 8.
    I thank Y.-K. Kim for a discussion of this point.Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    For reviews, see e.g. J.-P. Desclaux in Ref. 4a and I.P. Grant, ref 4b.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    B. Hess, to appear in Phys. Rev. A.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    J. Sucher, Columbia University Ph.D. Dissertation (1957, unpublished) and Phys. Rev. 109, 1010 (1958).Google Scholar
  14. H. Araki, Prog. Theoret. Phys. 17, 619 (1957). These papers use the Bethe-Salpeter equation rather than the simpler approach sketched below.MathSciNetADSzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 12.
    G.W.F. Drake and A.J. Makowski, J. Phys. B, 18, L103 (1985); A. Ermolaev, Durham University preprint.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 13.
    S.L. Palfrey and S. Lundeen, Phys. Rev. Lett. 53, 1141 (1924).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 14.
    G. Feinberg and J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. A 2, 2395 (1970).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. J. Sucher, in Cargese Lectures in Physics, edited by M. Levy (Gordon and Breach, New York, 1977), Vol. VII, pp. 43–110.Google Scholar
  19. 15.
    H.B.G. Casimir and D. Polder, Phys. Rev. 73, 360 (1948).ADSzbMATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 16.
    G. Feinberg and J. Sucher, Phys. Rev.27, 1958 (1983).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 17.
    E.J. Kelsey and L. Spruch, Phys. Rev. A18, 1055 (1978).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 18.
    J. Bernabeu and R. Tarrach, Ann. Phys. (N.Y.) 102, 323 (1976).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 19.
    R. Drachman, Phys. Rev. A26, 1228 (1982).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 20.
    C.-K. Au, G. Feinberg and J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. Lett. 53, 1145 (1984).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 21.
    C.-K. Au, G. Feinberg and J. Sucher, paper in preparation.Google Scholar
  26. 22.
    G. Feinberg and J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. Lett. 26, 681 (1971).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. G.W.F. Drake, Phys. Rev. A5, 1979 (1972)ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. for a review, with extensive references see J. Sucher, Rep. Prog. Phys. 41, 1781 (1978).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 23.
    For a comprehensive review, see G. Soff, NBS Workshop 1985.Google Scholar
  30. 24.
    G. Hardekopf and J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. A31, 2020 (1985).ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 25.
    For other points of view, see K. Dietz, in NBS Workshop 1985, and G. Feldman and T. Fulton, Johns Hopkins University preprint, August 1985.Google Scholar
  32. 26.
    J. Sucher, Phys. Rev. 107, 1448 (1957).MathSciNetADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Sucher
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations