The Electron Gas Current Response Function

Hong Yao
June 15, 2008

(Submitted as coursework for Physics 372, Stanford University, Spring 2008)

Fig. 1: The dimensionless part of the transverse current response function. (a) Both real (blue solid) and imaginary (red solid) parts of the response function are plotted for x=1. (b)Both real (blue dashed) and imaginary parts (red dashed) of the response function are plotted for x=3. The computer code that generated this plot is available here.

In this study, we investigate the free electron gas current response function. The charge current operator is defined as

where A is the vector potential and &psi(r) is the electron annihilation operator at r. Note that this definition of the current operator above is gauge invariant. We obtain

Now, we are ready to calculation the current response function. In linear response regime, the perturbative Hamiltonian is given by

where the Coulomb gauge is selected and the A2 term is neglected. Note that in H' it is j, not J, that couples to A. In terms of ck's, which are defined as

the currect j is given by

Thus, we are ready to obtain the current response


and Ef is the Fermi energy of the electron gas.

Due to the spherical symmetry of the electron gas, the response function can be decomposed into longitudinal and transverse parts:

The longitudinal part is related to the density response by virtue of the current continuity equation since the particle number is conserved. The continuity equation in the Coulomb gauge is given by

which indicates that

Since in the previous report the density response function has been computed, we here only need to compute the transverse part of the current response function as follows:

whose imaginary part can be evaluated in a closed form. We denote that

Thus, the transverse response function is given by


This complicated integral has not closed form. However, its imaginary part is simple:

Thus, the imaginary part of the transverse current response function is given by

Once we obtain the imaginary part of the transverse response function, its real part can be obtained by the Kramers-Kronig relation:

where P indicates the principle part of the integral.

© 2008 H. Yao. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] J. R. Schrieffer, Theory of Superconductivity (Perseus, 1999).

[2] A. L. Fetter and J. D. Walecka, Quantum Theory of Many-Particle Systems (Dover, 2003).

[3] X.-G. Wen, Quantum Field Theory of Many-body Systems (Oxford, 2007).