Wavefunction of a single photon

Photon dynamics in the double-slit experiment, 3


What equation describes the wavefunction of a single photon?

The Schrödinger equation describes the quantum mechanics of a single massive non-relativistic particle. The Dirac equation governs a single massive relativistic spin-½ particle. The photon is a massless, relativistic spin-1 particle.

What is the equivalent equation giving the quantum mechanics of a single photon?

— edited Jun 3 ’13 at 19:42

— Ben Crowell

— asked Nov 9 ’10 at 20:38

— nibot


There is no quantum mechanics of a photon, only a quantum field theory of electromagnetic radiation. The reason is that photons are never non-relativistic and they can be freely emitted and absorbed, hence no photon number conservation.

— answered Nov 10 ’10 at 20:00

— Igor Ivanov


You can also say that the wavefunction of a photon is defined as long as the photon is not emitted or absorbed. The wavefunction of a single photons is used in single-photon interferometry, for example. In a sense, it is not much different from the electron, where the wave-function start to be problematic when electrons start to be created or annihilated…

– Frédéric Grosshans Nov 17 ’10 at 10:19


— Physics StackExchange



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