What if the invisible forces that hold the universe together could be seen as waves? This concept is not mere speculation; recent theoretical advances suggest that such waves, which carry the momentum of spinning particles, could be a reality. Termed angular-momentum waves, these could potentially transform our understanding of particle interactions as dramatically as the discovery of electromagnetic waves transformed communication. This new vista in physics could pave the way for innovative methods to visualize and comprehend the unseen forces at play from the smallest particles to the largest cosmic structures.

As our understanding of the physical world continues to expand, a groundbreaking study conducted by Professor Jing-Ling Chen, Xing-Yan Fan, and Xiang-Ru Xie from Nankai University, has opened up a new frontier in the study of wave phenomena through the Yang-Mills equations. This innovative research, recently published in the journal Results in Physics, proposes the existence of angular-momentum waves, a concept that could revolutionize our understanding of the fundamental forces in nature.

The Yang-Mills theory, integral to the standard model of particle physics, extends Maxwell’s equations to more complex interactions. These include the electroweak and strong interactions, expanding our theoretical framework beyond the classical electromagnetic phenomena described by Maxwell’s original equations. This extension predicts angular-momentum waves, potentially detectable through phenomena like the oscillation of spin angular momentum, similar to the “spin Zitterbewegung” observed in Dirac’s electrons.

“Building on Maxwell’s legacy, our study predicts angular-momentum waves using the Yang-Mills theory. These waves arise from the deep symmetries and interactions that are essential for understanding the forces within the standard model of particle physics,” explained Professor Chen.

Utilizing operator solutions of the Yang-Mills equations under weak-coupling and zero-coupling approximations, the researchers demonstrated how these conditions facilitate the emergence of novel wave phenomena. These waves propagate through interactions involving the spin of particles, which are fundamentally quantum mechanical yet observable on a macroscopic scale.

“Our approach involved a detailed theoretical framework in which we considered the vacuum states of the field without external sources. This simplification allowed us to derive conditions under which these waves manifest, providing insights into their potential detection and broader implications,” said Professor Chen, discussing the methods used to demonstrate the existence of these waves.

The study not only advances theoretical knowledge but also suggests practical experiments for the detection of angular-momentum waves. A proposed experiment involves observing the effects of spin oscillations in Dirac electrons, where the rapid oscillation of the electron’s spin could potentially emit detectable angular-momentum waves.

“The discovery of angular-momentum waves could deepen our insights into the fabric of space-time and the fundamental interactions that govern the universe. It also holds the potential to lead to advancements in technologies that exploit these interactions,” noted Professor Chen.

This pioneering research marks a significant milestone in theoretical physics, potentially leading to new technologies and enhancing our understanding of the universe’s fundamental forces. Professor Jing-Ling highlights the broader implications of discovering angular-momentum waves, including their potential to influence future technologies and theoretical frameworks. As the scientific community anticipates experimental verification, the excitement about these findings contributes to the ever-evolving narrative of modern physics.

Journal Reference

Fan, Xing-Yan, Xiang-Ru Xie, and Jing-Ling Chen. “Predicting angular-momentum waves based on Yang–Mills equations.” Results in Physics 56 (2024): 107300. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rinp.2023.107300

About The Author

Jing-Ling Chen is a professor of physics at Nankai University. He got his bachelor’s degree (1994), master’s degree (1997) and doctor’s degree (2000) in Nankai University, P. R. China. He has been a post-doc at Beijing institute of apply physics (2000-2002) and a research fellow at National University of Singapore (2002-2005), respectively. His research interest is quantum physics and quantum information, especially in quantum fundamental problems, such as EPR paradox, quantum entanglement, EPR steering, Bell’s nonlocality and quantum contextuality. Due to his contribution in quantum foundations, he has won the Paul Ehrenfest Best Paper Award for Quantum Foundations (2021). Recently, he has made some original explorations on spin, such as proposing the spin vector potential, presenting the spin-type Aharonov-Bohm effect, and predicting the spin angular-momentum wave.