Fresnel analysis of wave propagation in nonlinear electrodynamics
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We study wave propagation in local nonlinear electrodynamical models. Particular attention is paid to the derivation and the analysis of the Fresnel equation for the wave covectors. For the class of local nonlinear Lagrangian nondispersive models, we demonstrate how the originally quartic Fresnel equation factorizes, yielding the generic birefringence effect. We show that the closure of the effective constitutive (or jump) tensor is necessary and sufficient for the absence of birefringence, i.e., for the existence of a unique light cone structure. As another application of the Fresnel approach, we analyze the light propagation in a moving isotropic nonlinear medium. The corresponding effective constitutive tensor contains nontrivial skewon and axion pieces. For nonmagnetic matter, we find that birefringence is induced by the nonlinearity, and derive the corresponding optical metrics. © 2002 The American Physical Society.