A research field within general optical physics concerned with light and its material interaction: where light is modelled by full quantum mechanical description.

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Are quantum effects significant in lens design?

Over on Photography, a question was asked as to why (camera) lenses are always cylindrical. Paraphrasing slightly, one of the answers and follow-up comments asserted that quantum effects are ...
25
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5answers
3k views

Does a photon interfere only with itself?

I sometimes hear statements like that: Quantum-mechanically, interference pattern occurs due to quantum interference of wavefunction of a photon. Wavefunction of a single photon only interferes ...
22
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4answers
350 views

Why doesn't a typical beam splitter cause a photon to decohere?

In many experiments in quantum mechanics, a single photon is sent to a mirror which it passes through or bounces off with 50% probability, then the same for some more similar mirrors, and at the end ...
19
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2answers
2k views

Rigorous justification for rotating wave approximation

Whenever I have encountered the rotating wave approximation, I have seen "the terms that we are neglecting correspond to rapid oscillations in the interaction Hamiltonian, so they will average to 0 in ...
14
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7answers
486 views

Optical equivalent of a superconductor

Is there some material state that can propagate light indefinitely without dissipation or absorption, like superconductors are able to transmit current indefinitely? If not, then the question is, why ...
12
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4answers
690 views

Nonlinear optics as gauge theory

the widely used approach to nonlinear optics is a Taylor expansion of the dielectric displacement field $\mathbf{D} = \epsilon_0\cdot\mathbf{E} + \mathbf{P}$ in a Fourier representation of the ...
12
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2answers
2k views

Quantum memories: What are they?

Searching the literature for the term "quantum memory" seems to bring up results from two different communities. On the one hand there are quantum opticians, who see a quantum memory as something ...
12
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2answers
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Virtual photon description of B and E fields

I continue to find it amazing that something as “bulky” and macroscopic as a static magnetic or electric field is actually a manifestation of virtual photons. So putting on your QFT spectacles, look ...
10
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3answers
541 views

What causes atoms to have their specific colors?

I understand that light (color) is part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that it depends on what wavelengths are reflected/absorbed. Though what property of an individual atom gives it its color? ...
10
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2answers
604 views

Unambiguous distinguishing of quantum states by local measurement

Let's have two orthogonal n-particle quantum states: $|\psi \rangle$ and $|\phi \rangle$. In theory it is always possible to make an unambiguous measurement. However, things get complicated when one ...
9
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1answer
288 views

Which qubit states are accessible with linear optics operations?

Given a quantum state of $n$ qubits, and being restricted to linear optics (that is, the output annihilation operators are linear combinations of the input annihilation operators): Which states are ...
9
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2answers
670 views

Reference request: Susskind-Glogower original paper

I'm trying to find Susskind and Glogower's original paper, L. Susskind and J. Glogower, Quantum mechanical phase and time operator, Physics 1 (1964) 49-61, where they propose their exponential ...
9
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167 views

Which of these theories on why light slows in media are true?

This question is similar to previously asked questions, but the responses to them are confusing and I think it may be better covered by listing out all the potential answers for clarity. It's a ...
9
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750 views

Quantum shot-noise and the fluctuation dissipation theorem

Classically, shot noise observed in the signal generated by a laser incident on a photodiode is explained as being due to the quantization of light into photons, giving rise to a Poisson process. In ...
8
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5answers
604 views

Computer game with quantum optics/ information

Is there a computer game using principles of quantum optics or quantum information? By game I don't mean just a simulation or an interactive course, but something that can be played in an enjoyable ...
8
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3answers
687 views

Informational capacity of qubits and photons

How much information is contained in one qubit? A qubit is defined in Wikipedia as $a\left|0\right> +b\left|1\right>$, where a and b are complex numbers subject to $a^2 + b^2 = 1$. One complex ...
8
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2answers
343 views

What are some ways to (approximately) symbolically diagonalize Hamiltonian operator?

Specifically the Hamiltonian takes the form of $$\hat H = \frac{\Delta }{2}{\hat \sigma _z} + {\omega _1}\hat a_1^\dagger {\hat a_1} + {\omega _2}\hat a_2^\dagger {\hat a_2} + {g_1}\left( {{{\hat ...
8
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2answers
220 views

Finding the spectrum of a polynomial of the creation and annihilation operators

Is there a general algorithm to find the spectrum of $S S^\dagger$, where $S$ is a homogenous polynomial (of degree $n$) of the annihilation operators (of $d$ variables)?
8
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1answer
273 views

A moderate introduction to Hanbury Brown Twiss interferometry in particle physics

For astronomy, as originally invented, the Hanbury Brown Twiss interferometer is good for finding the angular diameter of stars and is not a rapidly fluctuating observable like the amplitude in ...
7
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3answers
893 views

Can we transport energy over infinite distances through vacuum using light?

I know that light (or electromagnetic radiation in general) attenuates in intensity as the square of the distance it travels. Why does it attenuate? Are the photons being scattered by the medium ...
7
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3answers
818 views

How is squeezed light produced?

Ordinary laser light has equal uncertainty in phase and amplitude. When an otherwise perfect laser beam is incident onto a photodetector, the uncertainty in photon number will produce shot noise with ...
7
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1answer
336 views

How many stabilised qubits have been achieved in Quantum Computing?

The latest I read is 3 but that was in Oct. With Lene Hau of Harvard's "frozen light" and with quantum donuts, newer strategies for stabilization are appearing, but the problem of keeping the qubit in ...
7
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2answers
606 views

What is the “direction” of the transition dipole moment? (Understanding Eq. 9.29, Charge and Energy Transfer 3rd Ed, May & Kuhn)

For a real vector $\mathbf{r}$, the direction is given by: $\hat{\mathbf{n}}=\mathbf{r}/\left|\mathbf{r}\right|$. The transition dipole moment is a complex vector. How do you define its direction? ...
7
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3answers
187 views

Runge Kutta Method for a Lindblad Equation

I am solving a Lindblad equation for a dissipative Harmonic Oscillator. My Hamiltonian is time dependent, My Lindblad Equation can be written as \begin{equation} ...
6
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3answers
321 views

Commutator with a square root

How to find the commutator $[a, \sqrt{a^\dagger a}]$? Here $a$ is a usual bosonic annihilation operator, and $[a, a^\dagger] = 1$. The first thing I tried is $$ [x,A] = [x, \sqrt{A}]\sqrt{A} + ...
6
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4answers
357 views

Are coherent states of light 'classical' or 'quantum'?

Coherent states of light, defined as $$|\alpha\rangle=e^{-\frac{|\alpha|^2}{2}}\sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac{\alpha^n}{n!}|n\rangle$$ for a given complex number $\alpha$ and where $|n\rangle$ is a Fock ...
6
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2answers
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How to count photons

How are photons counted? What is the experimental setup used to count photons from a laser or even a lamp? Of course, in the case of the lamp, I would be able to count only the photons that pass ...
6
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1answer
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Why does the refractive index depend on wavelength? [duplicate]

Why do different wavelength get impeded more or less when in different materials? Moving with the same speed, but a longer physical distance would imply that the fields oscillate less times in the ...
6
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1answer
299 views

Can a photon exhibit multiple frequencies?

Can a photon be a superposition of multiple frequency states? Kind of similar to how an electron can be a superposition of multiple spin states.
6
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4answers
496 views

Interpretation of Wigner function in optics

I work in the field of synchrotron radiation sources where radiation (often x-rays) is produced from an electron beam going through magnetic fields. The quality of the resulting x-ray beam is ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Photon wave packets from distant stars

A distant star like the sun, thousands of light years away, could be so faint that only one photon might arrive per square meter every few hundred seconds. How can we think about such an arriving ...
5
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2answers
215 views

Quantum Mechanical Operators in the argument of an exponential

In Quantum Optics and Quantum Mechanics, the time evolution operator $$U(t,t_i) = \exp\left[\frac{-i}{\hbar}H(t-t_i)\right]$$ is used quite a lot. Suppose $t_i =0$ for simplicity, and say the ...
5
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2answers
179 views

Does the Casimir effect allow to change the lifetime of a radiating atom?

Is it true that a spontaneously light-emitting atom changes its lifetime if it is put between two parallel plates that are so near that they attract each other through the Casimir effect? Thus: does ...
5
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1answer
89 views

Why are “quadratures” called this way?

In quantum optics (and hence also cv quantum information), given the annihilation and creation operators of the electromagnetic fields $a$ and $a^{\dagger}$, the "position" and "momentum" operators ...
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1answer
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What IS reflection?

How does quantum electrodynamics actually explain HOW reflection occurs on a microscopic scale? Note that Feynman's QED lecture series/book is not sufficient, as he only assumes that light DOES ...
5
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2answers
95 views

Heuristics for definitions of open and closed quantum dynamics

I've been reading some of the literature on "open quantum systems" and it looks like the following physical interpretations are made: Reversible dynamics of a closed quantum system are represented ...
5
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1answer
172 views

Are Rabi oscillations a pure quantum process?

Rabi oscillations are commonly known as the oscillations in time of the occupation probability of a quantum two-level system under the action of a coupling interaction between the two-levels. ...
5
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1answer
271 views

Matlab package: graphical calculus for quantum operations (esp. linear optics)

I need a matlab package that will make my life easier. I have quantum circuits with optical beam splitters, polarizing beam splitters and photodetectors. These circuits are getting very complicated ...
5
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1answer
236 views

How do individual photons make up an EM wave?

I'm trying to understand the connection between the wave model and the particle model for light. It's understood that the energy of a photon is given by E=hf, but from my understanding of fourier ...
5
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1answer
271 views

Why can't fermions be affected by effective gravity in non-linear quantum electrodynamics?

Quantum electrodynamics based upon Euler-Heisenberg or Born-Infeld Lagrangians predict photons to move according to an effective metric which is dependent on the background electromagnetic field. In ...
4
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4answers
269 views

Why do lasers require mirror at the ends?

Laser uses mirrors to reflect photons in order to stimulate atoms to emit photons, but why this is so?. I mean, why does a photon stimulate atoms to produce more photons? If a photon made an atom to ...
4
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2answers
271 views

In optics, how does the vacuum state compare to thermal radiation?

In quantum optics, a perfect absorber of light is said to emit the "vacuum field". In practice, any beam dump will be at finite temperature, so it will emit blackbody radiation. How do these fields ...
4
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3answers
834 views

Lasing in a 2-Level system?

What exactly is the difference between 2-Level, 3-Level and 4-Level systems? Why can we not achieve stimulated emission in a two-level system using optical pumping?
4
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2answers
543 views

Alkali atom - photon interaction in zero magnetic field

An alkali atom has a single outer electron that interacts with incoming photons of the right wavelength (for alkalies it's in the visible & IR range). If there is an external magnetic field, the ...
4
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2answers
253 views

Polarisation of Light and Atomic Excitation

How does an atomic transition between ground and excited states depend upon the direction of polarisation of incident light?
4
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3answers
403 views

Beam splitters and Mach-Zender interferometers

I have a question (my very first here) related to 50/50 beam splitters as used in the Mach-Zehnder interferometers (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mach-Zehnder_interferometer). Let's ...
4
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1answer
122 views

What Cat States of light have been experimentally produced?

I'm specifically looking for Schrödinger's Cat states involving superpositions of two, or if it's been done more, coherent states, i.e. monomodal states of the form ...
4
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2answers
73 views

What is the difference between surface plasmon and surface plasmon polariton?

I'm trying to understand this reading article linked below and I still don't know how to explain this simply, without need to derive everything mathematically. Can someone just write here how do SP's ...
4
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3answers
453 views

Why does optical pumping of Rubidium require presence of magnetic field?

The optical pumping experiment of Rubidium requires the presence of magnetic field, but I don't understand why. The basic principle of pumping is that the selection rule forbids transition from ...
4
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1answer
210 views

Is $\hat{\phi}^{-}\hat{\phi}^{+}$ a well defined observable in the Quantum field theory of a scalar field?

Is the Hermitian operator $\hat{\mathcal{O}}=\hat{\phi}^{-}(x)\hat{\phi}^{+}(x)$, where $\hat{\phi}^{+}(x)$ is positive frequency part of the scalar field operator, a well defined observable in QFT? ...