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Spin-orbit coupling and the conservation of angular momentum.
Eur J Phys 2012 Mar; 33(2):407-416
In nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, the total (i.e. orbital plus spin) angular momentum of a charged particle with spin that moves in a Coulomb plus spin-orbit-coupling potential is conserved. In a classical nonrelativistic treatment of this problem, in which the Lagrange equations determine the orbital motion and the Thomas equation yields the rate of change of the spin, the particle's total angular momentum in which the orbital angular momentum is defined in terms of the kinetic momentum is generally not conserved. However, a generalized total angular momentum, in which the orbital part is defined in terms of the canonical momentum, is conserved. This illustrates the fact that the quantum-mechanical operator of momentum corresponds to the canonical momentum of classical mechanics.
Particulates; Particle-aerodynamics; Qualitative-analysis; Quantitative-analysis; Mathematical-models
Issue of Publication
European Journal of Physics
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division