A Method to Measure Vacuum Birefringence at FCC-ee

  • Ulrik I. UggerhøjEmail author
  • Tobias N. Wistisen
Part of the FIAS Interdisciplinary Science Series book series (FIAS)


It is well-known that the Heisenberg-Euler-Schwinger effective Lagrangian predicts that a vacuum with a strong static electromagnetic field turns birefringent. We propose a scheme that can be implemented at the planned FCC-ee, to measure the nonlinear effect of vacuum birefringence in electrodynamics arising from QED corrections. Our scheme employs a pulsed laser to create Compton backscattered photons off a high energy electron beam, with the FCC-ee as a particularly interesting example. These photons will pass through a strong static magnetic field, which changes the state of polarization of the radiation—an effect proportional to the photon energy. This change will be measured by the use of an aligned single-crystal, where a large difference in the pair production cross-sections can be achieved. In the proposed experimental setup the birefringence effect gives rise to a difference in the number of pairs created in the analyzing crystal, stemming from the fact that the initial laser light has a varying state of polarization, achieved with a rotating quarter wave plate. Evidence for the vacuum birefringent effect will be seen as a distinct peak in the Fourier transform spectrum of the pair-production rate signal. This tell-tale signal can be significantly above background with only few hours of measurement, in particular at high energies.


Pair Production Static Magnetic Field Stokes Vector Backscatter Cross Section High Energy Electron Beam 
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UIU wishes to congratulate prof. W. Greiner on the occasion of his 80th birthday, and would like to thank for a very well-organized conference at the beautiful Makutsi, South Africa.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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