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Energy transport velocity of electromagnetic propagation in dispersive media

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1 Author(s)
Schulz-DuBois, E.O. ; IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, Rüschlikon, Switzerland

For electromagnetic propagation in linear dispersive media, two definitions of energy transport velocity may be introduced. The first is the transport velocity of total stored energy density, and it was first discussed by Brillouin. This concept does not distinguish different forms of energy, but considers only the total. It is equal to the group velocity for the case of a lossless dispersive medium. Its significance is not fully understood for a maser medium where it is either greater than the velocity of light or negative, or for a dissipative dispersive medium where it does not seem to offer a simple description of the propagation process. The second is the transport velocity of electromagnetic energy. It is based on the distinction of propagating energy which is just electric and magnetic field energy, from localized energy which is stored in the degrees of freedom of the dispersive medium. Thus propagation involves electromagnetic propagation per se, plus a transfer of energy between the propagating and localized forms. This transport velocity is always less than the velocity of light, for absorbing and maser media alike. It may be determined through a gain or attenuation measurement since it enters the gain equation of electromagnetic transmission structures.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:57 ,  Issue: 10 )