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Proceedings Paper

Single photons cannot be extracted from the light of multi-atom light sources
Author(s): Karl Otto Greulich
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Paper Abstract

Throughout the development and confirmation of the photon concept, "Gedankenexperiments" have been invoked where a light source is attenuated until "only one photon is in the apparatus." Such a statement requires, however, knowledge on details of the light generation process, which were not known until the advent of true single-photon light sources such as isolated single atoms or molecules. Here, starting from a two atom light source, it is shown that probably multi-atom or multi-molecule light sources do not generate, even not in small fractions, antibunching photons and that attenuation down to one photon per time unit is not reliably possible. Thus, one of the strongest arguments in favour of the existence of single "photons" in free space, the accumulation time argument, which discusses the absorption of a single photon by a single atom or molecule, becomes questionable.

Paper Details

Date Published: 31 August 2007
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6664, The Nature of Light: What Are Photons?, 66640B (31 August 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.735798
Show Author Affiliations
Karl Otto Greulich, Fritz Lipmann Institute (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6664:
The Nature of Light: What Are Photons?
Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri; Al F. Kracklauer; Katherine Creath, Editor(s)

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