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Whats the difference between reflection and scattering of photon? (QFT)

  1. Feb 6, 2012 #1
    Just read Feynmen's QFT and been wondering the difference between photon reflection by a perfect mirror and photon scatter by say a rough surface.

    In both cases, photons are said to be absorbed by electrons and re-emitted.

    But in reflection case, photons get to "preserve" its wave information (wavefunction never collapse, phase increase by pi/2). I think in QFT, photons are said to have virtual interaction with all the electrons on the mirror?

    In scattering case, photon is absorbed by a specific electron and re-emitted, destroying all wave information.

    So what decide photon when to be reflected when to be scattered?

    Thanks for the help, just a curious laymen here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2012
  2. jcsd
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