Colloquium: nonlinear collective interactions in quantum plasmas with degenerate electron fluids

Padma Shukla, Bengt Eliasson

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The current understanding of some important nonlinear collective processes in quantum plasmas with degenerate electrons is presented. After reviewing the basic properties of quantum plasmas, model equations (e.g., the quantum hydrodynamic and effective nonlinear Schrödinger-Poisson equations) are presented that describe collective nonlinear phenomena at nanoscales. The effects of the electron degeneracy arise due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Pauli’s exclusion principle for overlapping electron wave functions that result in tunneling of electrons and the electron degeneracy pressure. Since electrons are Fermions (spin-1/2 quantum particles), there also appears an electron spin current and a spin force acting on electrons due to the Bohr magnetization. The quantum effects produce new aspects of electrostatic (ES) and electromagnetic (EM) waves in a quantum plasma that are summarized in here. Furthermore, nonlinear features of ES ion waves and electron plasma oscillations are discussed, as well as the trapping of intense EM waves in quantum electron-density cavities. Specifically, simulation studies of the coupled nonlinear Schrödinger and Poisson equations reveal the formation and dynamics of localized ES structures at nanoscales in a quantum plasma. The effect of an external magnetic field on the plasma wave spectra and develop quantum magnetohydrodynamic equations are also discussed. The results are useful for understanding numerous collective phenomena in quantum plasmas, such as those in compact astrophysical objects (e.g., the cores of white dwarf stars and giant planets), as well as in plasma-assisted nanotechnology (e.g., quantum diodes, quantum free-electron lasers, nanophotonics and nanoplasmonics, metallic nanostructures, thin metal films, semiconductor quantum wells, and quantum dots, etc.), and in the next generation of intense laser-solid density plasma interaction experiments relevant for fast ignition in inertial confinement fusion schemes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)885-906
Number of pages21
JournalReviews of Modern Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2011


  • quantum plasmas
  • nonlinear
  • collective interactions

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