Nonperturbative pair production in interpolating fields
Journal article, 2015
We compare the effects of timelike, lightlike and spacelike one-dimensional inhomogeneities on the probability of nonperturbative pair production in strong fields. Using interpolating coordinates we give a unifying picture in which the effect of the inhomogeneity is encoded in branch cuts and poles circulated by complex worldline instantons. For spacelike inhomogeneities the length of the cut is related to the existence of critical points, while for lightlike inhomogeneities the cut contracts to a pole and the instantons become contractible to points, leading to simplifications particular to the lightlike case. We calculate the effective action in fields with up to three nonzero components, and investigate its behavior under changes in field dependence.