Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hamiltonian curl forces

M. V. Berry , Pragya Shukla

Newtonian forces depending only on position but which are non-conservative, i.e. whose curl is not zero, are termed ‘curl forces’. They are non-dissipative, but cannot be generated by a Hamiltonian of the familiar isotropic kinetic energy + scalar potential type. Nevertheless, a large class of such non-conservative forces (though not all) can be generated from Hamiltonians of a special type, in which kinetic energy is an anisotropic quadratic function of momentum. Examples include all linear curl forces, some azimuthal and radial forces, and some shear forces. Included are forces exerted on electrons in semiconductors, and on small particles by monochromatic light near an optical vortex. Curl forces imply restrictions on the geometry of periodic orbits, and non-conservation of Poincaré's integral invariant. Some fundamental questions remain, for example: how does curl dynamics generated by a Hamiltonian differ from dynamics under curl forces that are not Hamiltonian?

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