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 ...
30
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5answers
5k 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 ...
27
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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 ...
25
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2answers
3k 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 ...
18
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2answers
3k 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 ...
16
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3answers
4k 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 ...
15
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7answers
832 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 ...
15
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3answers
2k 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 ...
14
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4answers
928 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 ...
14
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2answers
957 views

Photons with half integer angular momentum - what's happening?

I have just read this article - what is happening? Analysing these beams within the theory of quantum mechanics they predicted that the angular momentum of the photon would be half-integer, and ...
12
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3answers
2k 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? ...
12
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2answers
997 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 ...
12
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2answers
694 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 ...
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6answers
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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 ...
11
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1answer
352 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
1k 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
311 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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2answers
239 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
votes
5answers
720 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
votes
3answers
848 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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1answer
11k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
462 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 a}...
8
votes
1answer
249 views

In quantum optics if you measure the energy of a thermal state does it collapse to a Fock state (Photon number state)?

As I understand it a thermal state is a state of light such that the light is in a superposition of many Fock states (Photon number states) with the probability of the light being found in a ...
8
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1answer
294 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 ...
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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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2answers
376 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. ...
7
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1answer
395 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
1k 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
362 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} \frac{d\rho}{dt}=\frac{[H(t),\rho]}{i\...
6
votes
4answers
6k 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?
6
votes
3answers
619 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} + \sqrt{...
6
votes
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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1answer
422 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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1answer
142 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 ...
6
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1answer
3k 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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2answers
155 views

When is quantum optics “correct”?

What is the regime under which we may consider quantum optics description of light a good approximation of a more correct theory such as QED? By quantum optics I mean describing the electromagnetic ...
6
votes
4answers
648 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
122 views

Von Neumann entropy of mixtures of coherent states

I'm trying to calculate the Von Neumann entropy of statistical mixtures of coherent states. The problem is that such states are in general non-Gaussian, so one cannot follow the formalism developed ...
6
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3answers
201 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
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
370 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
474 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
168 views

Group theory and quantum optics

This is a question about application of group theory to physics. The starting point is the group $SU(n)$. I have a representation $R$ of $SU(n)$ that takes values on the unitary group on an infinite ...
5
votes
2answers
259 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
votes
2answers
195 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
2answers
999 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
769 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?
5
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2answers
149 views

Annihilating coherent state

Starting facts Annihilation operator $a$ removes one photon from fock state. Coherent states are eigenstates of annihilation operator and they are also superposition of different fock states. This ...
5
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3answers
735 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
121 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 ...