Vanishing of interband light absorption in a persistent spin helix state
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Spin-orbit coupling plays an important role in various properties of very different materials. Moreover efforts are underway to control the degree and quality of spin-orbit coupling in materials with a concomitant control of transport properties. We calculate the frequency dependent optical conductivity in systems with both Rashba and Dresselhaus spin-orbit coupling. We find that when the linear Dresselhaus spin-orbit coupling is tuned to be equal to the Rashba spin-orbit coupling, the interband optical conductivity disappears. This is taken to be the signature of the recovery of SU(2) symmetry. The presence of the cubic Dresselhaus spin-orbit coupling modifies the dispersion relation of the charge carriers and the velocity operator. Thus the conductivity is modified, but the interband contribution remains suppressed at most but not all photon energies for a cubic coupling of reasonable magnitude. Hence, such a measurement can serve as a diagnostic probe of engineered spin-orbit coupling.