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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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 ...
27
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5answers
4k 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 ...
26
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7answers
1k views

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 ...
21
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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
651 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 ...
13
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4answers
827 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 ...
13
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3answers
3k 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 ...
13
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2answers
2k views

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 ...
12
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3answers
1k 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 ...
11
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2answers
850 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 ...
10
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3answers
880 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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1answer
316 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 ...
10
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2answers
654 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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2answers
962 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 ...
9
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2answers
242 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 ...
8
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5answers
673 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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5answers
662 views

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

Coherent states of light, defined as $$|\alpha\rangle=e^{-\frac{|\alpha|^2}{2}}\sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac{\alpha^n}{\sqrt{n!}}|n\rangle $$ for a given complex number $\alpha$ and where $|n\rangle$ is a ...
8
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3answers
772 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
418 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
233 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
289 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
1k 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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1answer
367 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
924 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
282 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
460 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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1answer
6k views

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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2answers
2k views

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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4answers
579 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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1answer
2k views

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 ...
6
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3answers
128 views

How can a photon have a frequency but not a phase?

When a single photon is emitted as a result of relaxation of an electronic energy level, it (the field) is clearly in a Fock state because it has a well-defined number of quanta. By the uncertainty ...
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
234 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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1answer
372 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.
5
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416 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 ...
5
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2answers
186 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
votes
1answer
116 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
570 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 the Wikipedia page). Let's concentrate on the input beam splitter: ...
5
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2answers
118 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
265 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
votes
1answer
333 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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2answers
229 views

Shot noise at high frequencies (can it really be ideal white noise?)

Quantum shot noise (either optical intensity noise or electrical current noise) described by the noise spectral density of $2 e I$ (electrically) or $2 h \nu P$ (optically). So it is white noise. I ...
5
votes
1answer
363 views

Back-action noise vs shot noise

I have recently come across two key concepts in quantum optics: shot noise and back-action noise. This is very important for me to know: first, are shot noise and back-action noise the same? Please ...
5
votes
1answer
365 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
votes
1answer
280 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
230 views

Output of a beamsplitter with photon number (Fock) state inputs

Given a beamsplitter drawn below, where $\hat{a}$ and $\hat{b}$ are input modal annihilation operators, transmissivity is $\tau\in[0,1]$, and output modal annihilation operators are ...
4
votes
4answers
555 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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3answers
2k 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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3answers
451 views

Quantization of arbitrary electromagnetic field

Quantum optics all discuss the quantization of free electromagnetic radiation. The result is well established. But what about an arbitrary electromagnetic field? For example, the simplest case, ...
4
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2answers
296 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 ...