Point-particle effective field theory II: relativistic effects and Coulomb/inverse-square competition Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We apply point-particle effective field theory (PPEFT) to compute the leading shifts due to finite-size source effects in the Coulomb bound energy levels of a relativistic spinless charged particle. This is the analogue for spinless electrons of the contribution of the charge-radius of the source to these levels, and we disagree with standard calculations in several ways. Most notably we find there are two effective interactions with the same dimension that contribute to leading order in the nuclear size. One is the standard charge-radius contribution, while the other is a contact interaction whose leading contribution to $\delta E$ arises linearly in the small length scale, $\epsilon$, characterizing the finite-size effects, and is suppressed by $(Z\alpha)^5$. We argue that standard calculations miss the contributions of this second operator because they err in their choice of boundary conditions at the source for the wave-function of the orbiting particle. PPEFT predicts how this boundary condition depends on the source's charge radius, as well as on the orbiting particle's mass. Its contribution turns out to be crucial if the charge radius satisfies $\epsilon \lesssim (Z\alpha)^2 a_B$, with $a_B$ the Bohr radius, since then relativistic effects become important. We show how the problem is equivalent to solving the Schr\"odinger equation with competing Coulomb, inverse-square and delta-function potentials, which we solve explicitly. A similar enhancement is not predicted for the hyperfine structure, due to its spin-dependence. We show how the charge-radius effectively runs due to classical renormalization effects, and why the resulting RG flow is central to predicting the size of the energy shifts. We discuss how this flow is relevant to systems having much larger-than-geometric cross sections, and the possible relevance to catalysis of reactions through scattering with monopoles.

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publication date

  • July 2017