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Title: ‘Superluminal paradox’ in wave packet propagation and its quantum mechanical resolution

We analyse in detail the reshaping mechanism leading to apparently ‘superluminal’ advancement of a wave packet traversing a classically forbidden region. In the coordinate representation, a barrier is shown to act as an effective beamsplitter, recombining envelopes of the freely propagating pulse with various spacial shifts. Causality ensures that none of the constituent envelopes are advanced with respect to free propagation, yet the resulting pulse is advanced due to a peculiar interference effect, similar to the one responsible for ‘anomalous’ values which occur in Aharonov’s ‘weak measurements’. In the momentum space, the effect is understood as a bandwidth phenomenon, where the incident pulse probes local, rather than global, analytical properties of the transmission amplitude T(p). The advancement is achieved when T(p) mimics locally an exponential behaviour, similar to the one occurring in Berry’s ‘superoscillations’. Seen in a broader quantum mechanical context, the ‘paradox’ is but a consequence of an attempt to obtain ‘which way?’ information without destroying the interference between the pathways of interest. This explains, to a large extent, the failure to adequately describe tunnelling in terms of a single ‘tunnelling time’. -- Highlights: •Apparent superluminality is described in the language of quantum measurements. •A barrier acts as amore » beamsplitter delaying copies of the initial pulse. •In the coordinate space the effect is similar to what occurs in ‘weak measurements’. •In the momentum space it relies on superoscillations in the transmission amplitude. •It is an interference effect, unlikely to be explained in simpler physical terms.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Department of Physical Chemistry, University of the Basque Country, Leioa, Bizkaia (Spain)
  2. (Spain)
  3. Basque Center for Applied Mathematics (BCAM), Alameda de Mazarredo, 14 48009, Bilbao Bizkaia (Spain)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22224259
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Annals of Physics (New York); Journal Volume: 339; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2013 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; AMPLITUDES; CAUSALITY; COORDINATES; DIFFUSION BARRIERS; INTERFERENCE; PULSES; QUANTUM MECHANICS; RESOLUTION; SPACE; TRANSMISSION; TUNNEL EFFECT; VENTILATION BARRIERS; WAVE PACKETS