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Day April 25, 2012

PT-Symmetric Quantum Electrodynamics and Unitarity

Kimball A. Milton, E. K. Abalo, Prachi Parashar, Nima Pourtolami, J. Wagner

More than 15 years ago, a new approach to quantum mechanics was suggested, in which Hermiticity of the Hamiltonian was to be replaced by invariance under a discrete symmetry, the product of parity and time-reversal symmetry, \(\mathcal{PT}\). It was shown that if \(\mathcal{PT}\) is unbroken, energies were, in fact, positive, and unitarity was satisifed. Since quantum mechanics is quantum field theory in 1 dimension, time, it was natural to extend this idea to higher-dimensional field theory, and in fact an apparently viable version of \(\mathcal{PT}\)-invariant quantum electrodynamics was proposed. However, it has proved difficult to establish that the unitarity of the scattering matrix, for example, the Kallen spectral representation for the photon propagator, can be maintained in this theory. This has led to questions of whether, in fact, even quantum mechanical systems are consistent with probability conservation when Green’s functions are examined, since the latter have to possess physical requirements of analyticity. The status of \(\mathcal{PT}\)QED will be reviewed in this report, as well as the general issue of unitarity.

High Energy Physics – Theory (hep-th); Quantum Physics (quant-ph)