, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 239-247

Coherence of radiation as studied by multiple coincidences of photons and particles

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Abstract

Coincidences of photons and particles are measured by counting the number of events occurring simultaneously in two or more detectors. Coherent and incoherent radiation may have different behavior when the number of coincidence counts is studied with different arrangements of the coincidence detectors: the coincidence rate for the coherent radiation field, such as that obtained from a single-mode laser, is independent on the transverse separation between the detectors as long as the intensity of the radiation stays constant. On the other hand, with incoherent thermal radiation, using suitable monochromatization, the coincidence rate can show a significant bunching effect at detector separations smaller than the transverse coherence length. As a third alternative, photon antibunching may be observed if the radiation field is prepared in a number state, such as that available from resonance fluorescence of atoms, ions or molecules. If the time resolution of the detectors is not sufficient to resolve separate counts, corresponding effects can be observed in experiments, where the analog outputs of the detectors are multiplied to produce an intensity correlation signal. Intensity correlation and coincidence studies of photons and particles are reviewed in this report starting from the early experiments in the 1950’s and including recent work on X-ray coincidences and three-pion correlations. New results are presented for three- and four-photon coincidences at the X-ray wavelengths.