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Proceedings Paper

The photon wave function
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Paper Abstract

We review and sharpen the concept of a photon wave function based on the quantum theory of light. We argue that a point-like atom serves as the archetype for both the creation and detection of photons. Spontaneous emission from atoms provides a spatially localized source of photon states that serves as a natural wave packet basis for quantum states of light. Photodetection theory allows us to give operational meaning to the photon wave function which, for single photons, is analogous to the electric field in classical wave optics. Entanglement between photons, and the uniquely quantum phenomena that result from it, are exemplified by two-photon wave functions.

Paper Details

Date Published: 4 August 2005
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 5866, The Nature of Light: What Is a Photon?, (4 August 2005); doi: 10.1117/12.623373
Show Author Affiliations
A. Muthukrishnan, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
M. O. Scully, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
Princeton Univ. (United States)
M. S. Zubairy, Texas A&M Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5866:
The Nature of Light: What Is a Photon?
Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri; Katherine Creath, Editor(s)

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