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We show that when an electron or photon propagates in a cylindrically symmetric waveguide, it experiences both a Zitterbewegung effect and a spin-orbit interaction leading to identical propagation dynamics for both particles. Applying a unified perturbative approach to both particles simultaneously, we find that to first order in perturbation theory, their Hamiltonians each contain identical Darwin (Zitterbewegung) and spin-orbit terms, resulting in the unification of their dynamics. The presence of the Zitterbewegung effect may be interpreted physically as the delocalization of the electron on the scale of its Compton wavelength, or the delocalization of the photon on the scale of its wavelength in the waveguide. The presence of the spin-orbit interaction leads to the prediction of several rotational effects: the spatial or time evolution of either particle's spin or polarization vector is controlled by the sign of its orbital angular momentum quantum number or, conversely, its spatial wave function is controlled by its spin angular momentum.

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Copyright © 2011 by American Physical Society. All rights reserved.

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