|The quantum-optics Hamiltonian in the Multipolar gauge. |
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This article deals with the fundamental problem of light-matter interaction in the quantum theory. Although it is described through the vector potential in quantum electrodynamics, it is believed by some that a hamiltonian involving only the electric and the magnetic fields is preferable. In the literature this hamiltonian is known as the Power-Zienau-Woolley hamiltonian. We question its validity and show that it is not equivalent to the minimal-coupling hamiltonian. In this article, we show that these two hamiltonians are not connected through a gauge transformation. We find that the gauge is not fixed in the Power-Zienau-Woolley hamiltonian. The interaction term is written in one gauge whereas the rest of the hamiltonian is written in another gauge. The Power-Zienau-Woolley hamiltonian and the minimal-coupling one are related through a unitary transformation that does not fulfill the gauge fixing constraints. Consequently, they predict different physical results. In this letter, we provide the correct quantum theory in the multipolar gauge with a hamiltonian involving only the physical fields.