Does QED allow for relativistic effects? I recall hearing at a theoretical chemistry conference, that the color of gold was due to relativistic effects on the inner electrons; presumably, using a similarly heavy highly ionized species to "mimic" helium by drawing in the electrons, would result in very high orbital velocity; hence, room for relativistic effects?
posted on 12/03/2012 7:02:10 PM PST
(The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
QED is fully relativistic. Historically it derived from second quantization of the Dirac equation. Recall that anti-matter came out of the Dirac equation for the electron. So did spin. In the Schroedinger/Heisenberg version of quantum mechanics neither of those things really exist. Spin was just thrown in ad hoc
because it was known to be there. But you can't produce it from first principles without relativistic treatment. Anti-matter kinda surprised even Dirac. But he stuck to his guns. You can't really do pair-production, negative energy, or virtual particles in QED without a relativistic basis.
Nobody likes to remember "second quantization" anymore; it's like the Klingons in the original Star Trek. Kind of embarrassing to High Energy guys these days. I was never a High Energy Physicist. I just found it interesting. Naturally my adviser regarded courses beyond the candidacy exam not related to my field as a waste of time.
Gold. Now you are really testing my memory. But ... I do not think so. I seem to recall that if you actually do a wild-ass guess (that works surprisingly well, kind of like that neutron/proton stability model that comes from viewing the nucleus as a particle-in-a-box) you find that the inner electrons in all elements from the Lanthanides and beyond have enough energy that they have to be treated relativistically.
Gawd that is a long time ago... anyway, no, color in pure metals is a result of band theory. I believe for most metals, there are so many energy levels so close at the top of the conduction band that they radiate essentially continuously (thus appear silver, as most metals do.) Copper and Gold have some weirdness in the Fermi-levels near the top of their conduction bands that cut-off blue light.
I'll see if I can dig up a web page in a while; must help daughter with math.
posted on 12/03/2012 9:25:37 PM PST
(Shut 'er down Clancy. She's pumpin' mud.)
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