von Neumann spin measurements with Rashba fields
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New Journal of Physics 16 : (2014) // Article ID 015013
We show that dynamics in the spin-orbit coupling field simulate the von Neumann measurement of a particle spin. We demonstrate how the measurement influences the spin and coordinate evolution of a particle by comparing two examples of such a procedure. The first example is a simultaneous measurement of spin components, sigma(x) and sigma(y), corresponding to non-commuting operators, which cannot be accurately obtained together at a given time instant due to the Heisenberg uncertainty ratio. By mapping spin dynamics onto a spatial walk, such a procedure determines measurement-time averages of sigma(x) and sigma(y), which can already be precisely evaluated in a single short-time measurement. The other, qualitatively different, example is the spin of a one-dimensional particle in a magnetic field. Here, the measurement outcome depends on the angle between the spin-orbit coupling and magnetic fields. These results can be applied to studies of spin-orbit coupled cold atoms and electrons in solids.