Abstract

Quantum electrodynamics (QED) is applied for the first reported time to optical rotation in birefringent crystals. Using a modification of QED appropriate to anisotropic crystals together with general space–time symmetries, we derive the optical-rotation component of the photon propagator. We also derive a low-frequency theorem for the optical-rotation tensors that is valid to all orders in perturbation theory. We prove that optical activity depends in a nonlinear manner on the direction of propagation and is approximately proportional to the optical frequency. Earlier theories of optical rotation, which are primarily phenomenological, are either inconsistent with QED or are developed only for isotropic crystals. The relation among the QED predictions, the constitutive equations, and earlier approaches is fully discussed.

© 1988 Optical Society of America

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