Hermitian spin-orbit Hamiltonians on a surface in orthogonal curvilinear coordinates: A new practical approach

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Shikakhwa M. S. , Chair N.

PHYSICS LETTERS A, vol.380, pp.1985-1989, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 380
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.physleta.2016.03.041
  • Journal Name: PHYSICS LETTERS A
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1985-1989
  • Keywords: Spin-orbit coupling, Geometric potential, Curved surface quantum mechanics, Synthetic gauge fields
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


The Hermitian Hamiltonian of a spin one-half particle with spin-orbit coupling (SOC) confined to a surface that is embedded in a three-dimensional space spanned by a general Orthogonal Curvilinear Coordinate (OCC) is constructed. A gauge field formalism, where the SOC is expressed as a non-Abelian SU(2) gauge field is used. A new practical approach, based on the physical argument that upon confining the particle to the surface by a potential, then it is the physical Hermitian momentum operator transverse to the surface, rather than just the derivative with respect to the transverse coordinate that should be dropped from the Hamiltonian. Doing so, it is shown that the Hermitian Hamiltonian for SOC is obtained with the geometric potential and the geometric kinetic energy terms emerging naturally. The geometric potential is shown to represent a coupling between the transverse component of the gauge field and the mean curvature of the surface that replaces the coupling between the transverse momentum and the gauge field. The most general Hermitian Hamiltonian with linear SOC on a general surface embedded in any 3D OCC system is reported. Explicit plug-and-play formulae for this Hamiltonian on the surfaces of a cylinder, a sphere and a torus are given. The formalism is applied to the Rashba SOC in three dimensions (3D RSOC) and the explicit expressions for the surface Hamiltonians on these three geometries are worked out. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.