Physical Photons: Theory, Experiment and Implications

  • Geoffrey Hunter
  • Robert L. P. Wadlinger
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 162)


A physical model of the photon is presented. It is a solution of Maxwell’s equations confined within a finite region of space—time along the photon’s axis of propagation. The rotating/oscillating electromagnetic field has the observed photon—eigenvalues of linear and intrinsic (spin) angular momentum. The model predicts two angular momentum eigenstates having either positive or negative helicity (left or right circular polarization).

The finite region containing the field is defined by the relativistic principle that congruent events within it are causally connected (separated by timelike intervals). The region is a circular ellipsoid whose major axis and cross—sectional circumference are both one wavelength long. Excited states of the field containing two or more quanta of energy within the same ellipsoidal volume represent multiphotons.

This physical model of the photon is consistent with experimental properties of electromagnetic radiation, including photon bunching and anti—bunching, multiphoton absorption, and the transmission of microwaves through apertures. A microwave experiment designed to measure the photon’s diameter is reported; the measured value accords with the theoretical model’s prediction within the experimental error of half a percent.

The finite—field model of the photon is both a particle and a wave, and hence we refer to it by Eddington’s name “wavicle”. That the wavicle’s position is essentially uncertain within the size of its finite domain leads to the idea that the minimum quantum of action arises because the particle cannot transfer its momentum in less time than it takes to traverse the length of its own domain. Its minimum action (equal to Planck’s constant) is the product of its length and its momentum.

Thus the dichotomy of the wave—particle duality of light is replaced by a unity, and the schism between the Copenhagen philosophy of fundamental indeterminacy and the contrary, determinist, view that indeterminacy is only an experimental limitation, is resolved in favour of the latter, because internally the wavicle is classical and causal, but its interactions necessarily involve non—causal, space—like intervals, and hence in interactions (i.e. measurements) the indeterminacy of established quantum mechanics prevails.


Congruent Event Null Geodesic Negative Helicity Ellipsoidal Volume Coherent Photon 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey Hunter
    • 1
  • Robert L. P. Wadlinger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryYork UniversityTorontoCanada

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