Quantum Maxwell's Equations Made Simple: Employing Scalar and Vector Potential Formulation

Weng Cho Chew, Dong Yeop Na, Peter Bermel, Thomas E. Roth, Christopher J. Ryu, Erhan Kudeki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a succinct way to quantize Maxwell's equations. We begin by discussing the random nature of quantum observables. Then we present the quantum Maxwell's equations and give their physical meanings. Due to the mathematical homomorphism between the classical and quantum cases [1], the derivation of quantum Maxwell's equations can be simplified. First, one needs only to verify that the classical equations of motion are derivable from a Hamiltonian by energy-conservation arguments. Then the quantum equations of motion follow due to homomorphism, which applies to sum-separable Hamiltonians. Hence, we first show the derivation of classical Maxwell's equations using Hamiltonian theory. Then the derivation of the quantum Maxwell's equations follows in an analogous fashion. Finally, we apply this quantization procedure to the dispersive medium case. (This article is written for the classical electromagnetic community assuming little knowledge of quantum theory, an introduction of which can be found in [2, Lecs. 38 and 39].)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9286841
Pages (from-to)14-26
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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