An electromagnetic fourpotential is a relativistic vector function from which the electromagnetic field can be derived. It combines both an electric scalar potential and a magnetic vector potential into a single fourvector. ^{[1]}
As measured in a given frame of reference, and for a given gauge, the first component of the electromagnetic fourpotential is the electric scalar potential, and the other three components make up the magnetic vector potential. While both the scalar and vector potential depend upon the frame, the electromagnetic fourpotential is Lorentz covariant.
Like other potentials, many different electromagnetic fourpotentials correspond to the same electromagnetic field, depending upon the choice of gauge.
In this article, index notation and the Minkowski metric (+−−−) will be used, see also Ricci calculus, covariance and contravariance of vectors and raising and lowering indices for more details on notation. Formulae are given in SI units and Gaussiancgs units.
Contents

Definition 1

In the Lorenz gauge 2

See also 3

References 4
Definition
The electromagnetic fourpotential can be defined as:^{[2]}

SI units

cgs units

A^\alpha = \left( \phi / c , \mathbf{A} \right)\,\!

A^\alpha = (\phi, \mathbf{A})

in which ϕ is the electric potential, and A is the magnetic potential (a vector potential). The units of A^{α} are V·s·m^{−1} in SI, and Mx·cm^{−1} in Gaussiancgs.
The electric and magnetic fields associated with these fourpotentials are:^{[3]}

SI units

cgs units

\mathbf{E} = \mathbf{\nabla} \phi  \frac{\partial \mathbf{A}}{\partial t}

\mathbf{E} = \mathbf{\nabla} \phi  \frac{1}{c} \frac{\partial \mathbf{A}}{\partial t}

\mathbf{B} = \mathbf{\nabla} \times \mathbf{A}.

\mathbf{B} = \mathbf{\nabla} \times \mathbf{A}.

In special relativity, the electric and magnetic fields must be written in the form of a tensor so they transform correctly under Lorentz transformations  achieved by the electromagnetic tensor. This is written in terms of the electromagnetic fourpotential as:

F^{\mu\nu}=\partial^{\mu}A^{\nu}\partial^{\nu}A^{\mu}.
This essentially defines the fourpotential in terms of physically observable quantities, as well as reducing to the above definition.
In the Lorenz gauge
Often, the Lorenz gauge condition \partial_{\alpha} A^{\alpha} = 0 in an inertial frame of reference is employed to simplify Maxwell's equations as:^{[4]}

SI units

cgs units

\Box A^\alpha = \mu_0 J^\alpha

\Box A^\alpha = \frac{4 \pi}{c} J^\alpha

where J^{α} are the components of the fourcurrent, and

\Box = \frac{1}{c^2} \frac{\partial^2} {\partial t^2}\nabla^2
is the d'Alembertian operator. In terms of the scalar and vector potentials, this last equation becomes:

SI units

cgs units

\Box \phi = \frac{\rho}{\epsilon_0}

\Box \phi = 4 \pi \rho

\Box \mathbf{A} = \mu_0 \mathbf{j}

\Box \mathbf{A} = \frac{4 \pi}{c} \mathbf{j}

For a given charge and current distribution, ρ(r, t) and j(r, t), the solutions to these equations in SI units are:^{[5]}

\phi (\mathbf{r}, t) = \frac{1}{4 \pi \epsilon_0} \int \mathrm{d}^3 x^\prime \frac{\rho( \mathbf{r}^\prime, t_r)}{ \left \mathbf{r}  \mathbf{r}^\prime \right}

\mathbf A (\mathbf{r}, t) = \frac{\mu_0}{4 \pi} \int \mathrm{d}^3 x^\prime \frac{\mathbf{j}( \mathbf{r}^\prime, t_r)}{ \left \mathbf{r}  \mathbf{r}^\prime \right},
where

t_r = t  \frac{\left\mathbf{r}\mathbf{r}'\right}{c}
is the retarded time. This is sometimes also expressed with

\rho(\mathbf{r}',t_r)=[\rho(\mathbf{r}',t)],
where the square brackets are meant to indicate that the time should be evaluated at the retarded time. Of course, since the above equations are simply the solution to an inhomogeneous differential equation, any solution to the homogeneous equation can be added to these to satisfy the boundary conditions. These homogeneous solutions in general represent waves propagating from sources outside the boundary.
When the integrals above are evaluated for typical cases, e.g. of an oscillating current (or charge), they are found to give both a magnetic field component varying according to r ^{−2} (the induction field) and a component decreasing as r ^{−1} (the radiation field).
See also
References

^ Gravitation, J.A. Wheeler, C. Misner, K.S. Thorne, W.H. Freeman & Co, 1973, ISBN 0716703440

^ Introduction to Electrodynamics (3rd Edition), D.J. Griffiths, Pearson Education, Dorling Kindersley, 2007, ISBN 8177582933

^ Electromagnetism (2nd Edition), I.S. Grant, W.R. Phillips, Manchester Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2008, ISBN 9780471927129

^ Introduction to Electrodynamics (3rd Edition), D.J. Griffiths, Pearson Education, Dorling Kindersley, 2007, ISBN 8177582933

^ Electromagnetism (2nd Edition), I.S. Grant, W.R. Phillips, Manchester Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2008, ISBN 9780471927129

Rindler, Wolfgang (1991). Introduction to Special Relativity (2nd). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jackson, J D (1999). Classical Electrodynamics (3rd). New York: Wiley. ISBN ISBN 047130932X.
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