Royal Society Publishing

The Theory of the Anomalous Skin Effect in Metals

G. E. H. Reuter, E. H. Sondheimer


The problem of metallic conduction at high frequencies and low temperatures, recently discussed by Pippard, is reformulated using the general methods of the theory of metals, and exact solutions are obtained which are valid for all frequencies and temperatures. It is shown that, for large values of the free path of the conduction electrons, the electric field is propagated through the metal as a 'surface wave' which differs considerably from the classical exponential solution. The temperature variation of the surface impedance in the microwave region is considered in detail. Pippard's simplified theory is shown to be qualitatively correct, and a quantitative discussion of his experimental results is given. The frequency variation of the surface impedance at low temperatures is also discussed, and it is shown that relaxation effects are negligible in the microwave region but become important in the infra-red and eventually restore the validity of the classical theory. The theory predicts that, as the frequency is increased, the reflexion coefficient of metals passes through a minimum in the far infra-red.