# Polarization and helicity states

• JoePhysicsNut
In summary, polarization states describe the orientation of the electric field of a wave, while helicity states describe the direction of the spin of a particle. These two states are related through the spin of a particle and can be measured using a polarizer and a helicity analyzer. Practical applications of understanding these states include advancements in technologies such as LCD screens, polarized sunglasses, communication, and imaging.
JoePhysicsNut
At the beginning of cpt 9, Griffiths states that massive bosons have three polarization states (m_s = 1, 0, -1), but massless ones have only two (m_s = 1, -1). Are these polarization states the same thing as helicity states? I.e. the W/Z would have 3 helicity states and the photon only 2?

Yes, with the caution that for a massive particle, helicity is not Lorentz invariant. But the number of independent spin states is like you say.

## 1. What is the difference between polarization and helicity states?

Polarization states refer to the orientation of the electric field of a wave, while helicity states refer to the direction of the spin of a particle. In other words, polarization describes the direction in which the wave oscillates, while helicity describes the direction of rotation of the particle as it moves forward.

## 2. How are polarization and helicity states related?

Polarization and helicity states are related through the spin of a particle. The polarization of a wave is determined by the spin of the particles that make up the wave, while the helicity of a particle is determined by the direction of its spin relative to its momentum.

## 3. Can particles have both polarization and helicity states?

Yes, particles can have both polarization and helicity states at the same time. For example, photons have both a spin and an electric field orientation, so they can have both polarization and helicity states.

## 4. How are polarization and helicity states measured?

Polarization states can be measured using a polarizer, which filters out waves with certain orientations of the electric field. Helicity states can be measured using a device called a helicity analyzer, which can detect the direction of rotation of a particle's spin.

## 5. What are the practical applications of understanding polarization and helicity states?

Understanding polarization and helicity states is important in fields such as optics, where polarization is used in various technologies such as LCD screens and polarized sunglasses. In particle physics, helicity is used to study the properties of subatomic particles. Additionally, understanding these states can also lead to advancements in communication and imaging technologies.

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