Dr. Ahmed G. Abo-Khalil

Electrical Engineering Department

Electromagnetic fo

In the context of special relativity, it is natural to join the magnetic vector potential together with the (scalar) electric potential into the electromagnetic potential, also called "four-potential".

One motivation for doing so is that the four-potential is a mathematical four-vector. Thus, using standard four-vector transformation rules, if the electric and magnetic potentials are known in one inertial reference frame, they can be simply calculated in any other inertial reference frame.

Another, related motivation is that the content of classical electromagnetism can be written in a concise and convenient form using the electromagnetic four potential, especially when the Lorenz gauge is used. In particular, in abstract index notation, the set of Maxwell's equations (in the Lorenz gauge) may be written (in Gaussian units) as follows:

partial^mu A_mu = 0 ,
Box A_mu = frac{4 pi}{c} J_mu

where □ is the d'Alembertian and J is the four-current. The first equation is the Lorenz gauge condition while the second contains Maxwell's equations.

Yet another motivation for creating the electromagnetic four-potential is that it plays a very important role in quantum electrodynamics.

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