Date of Award

Summer 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mathematics and Statistics


Computational and Applied Mathematics

Committee Director

John A. Adam

Committee Member

John Tweed

Committee Member

Linda Vahala

Committee Member

Tony Slaba


With recent renewed interest in the classical topics of both acoustic and electromagnetic aspects for nano-technology, transformation optics, fiber optics, metamaterials with negative refractive indices, cloaking and invisibility, the topic of time-independent scattering theory in quantum mechanics is becoming a useful field to re-examine in the above contexts. One of the key areas of electromagnetic theory scattering of plane electromagnetic waves — is based on the properties of the refractive indices in the various media. It transpires that the refractive index of a medium and the potential in quantum scattering theory are intimately related. In many cases, understanding such scattering in radially symmetric media is sufficient to gain insight into scattering in more complex media. Meeting the challenge of variable refractive indices and possibly complicated boundary conditions therefore requires accurate and efficient numerical methods, and where possible, analytic solutions to the radial equations from the governing scalar and vector wave equations (in acoustics and electromagnetic theory, respectively). Until relatively recently, researchers assumed a constant refractive index throughout the medium of interest. However, the most interesting and increasingly useful cases are those with non-constant refractive index profiles. In the majority of this dissertation the focus is on media with piecewise constant refractive indices in radially symmetric media. The method discussed is based on the solution of Maxwell's equations for scattering of plane electromagnetic waves from a dielectric (or "transparent") sphere in terms of the related Helmholtz equation. The main body of the dissertation (Chapters 2 and 3) is concerned with scattering from (i) a uniform spherical inhomogeneity embedded in an external medium with different properties, and (ii) a piecewise-uniform central inhomogeneity in the external medium. The latter results contain a natural generalization of the former (previously known) results. The link with time-independent quantum mechanical scattering, via morphology-dependent resonances (MDRs), is discussed in Chapter 2. This requires a generalization of the classical problem for scattering of a plane wave from a uniform spherically-symmetric inhomogeneity (in which the velocity of propagation is a function only of the radial coordinate r. i.e.. c = c(r)) to a piecewise-uniform inhomogeneity. In Chapter 3 the Jost-function formulation of potential scattering theory is used to solve the radial differential equation for scattering which can be converted into an integral equation corresponding via the Jost boundary conditions. The first two iterations for the zero angular momentum case l = 0 are provided for both two-layer and three-layer models. It is found that the iterative technique is most useful for long wavelengths and sufficiently small ratios of interior and exterior wavenumbers. Exact solutions are also provided for these cases. In Chapter 4 the time-independent quantum mechanical 'connection' is exploited further by generalizing previous work on a spherical well potential to the case where a delta 'function' potential is appended to the exterior of the well (for l ≠ 0). This corresponds to an idealization of the former approach to the case of a 'coated sphere'. The poles of the associated 'S-matrix' are important in this regard, since they correspond directly with the morphology-dependent resonances discussed in Chapter 2. These poles (for the l = 0 case, to compare with Nussenzveig's analysis) are tracked in the complex wavenumber plane as the strength of the delta function potential changes. Finally, a set of 4 Appendices is provided to clarify some of the connections between (i) the scattering of acoustic/electromagnetic waves from a penetrable/dielectric sphere and (ii) time-independent potential scattering theory in quantum mechanics. This, it is hoped, will be the subject of future work.