Consider light bouncing back and forth between two ideal front surfaced mirrors. How long does the process of reflection (i.e., absorption and re-emission) take?

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    $\begingroup$ related (without answer yet): This question $\endgroup$ – Moonraker Jun 8 '16 at 12:37
  • $\begingroup$ The electromagnetic field doesn't get absorbed (to first order) and one wouldn't describe the process with the equivalent of an atomic scattering process, either. $\endgroup$ – CuriousOne Jun 8 '16 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Good question. But I think reflection is more like scattering (as suggested by @jim 's comment below) than absorption and re-emission. A related issue is : where exactly does reflection take place? The reflected wave originates a short distance below the "surface" of even a very flat mirror. This relates to the "Skin Depth" of the material. Also relevant is the phase change on reflection, which could be seen as a delay. However, all these processes are far shorter than absorption and re-emission; by comparision reflection is "instantaneous". $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Jun 8 '16 at 14:03

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