Foundations of Physics

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 905–916 | Cite as

The effect of localization on interference. I. Calculated intensities for a feasible optical experiment

  • C. E. Engelke
  • C. W. Engelke


A simple geometry utilizing a laser-excited atomic beam as light source, and a nearby oscillating mirror, would permit the observation of a two-channel optical interference effect involving photons which can be localized predominantly in one channel by coincidence observations of the recoiling source atom. A sacrifice of the optimum conditions for photon interference is necessary even when photon localization in one channel is accomplished by an observation of the recoil atom. This necessity arises because the width of the slit defining the atomic beam, and with it the important optical source dimension, must be comparable to the optical wavelength to obtain the small uncertainty in initial total momentum needed for significant localization. Quantum mechanical calculations of the coincidence intensity and singles intensity as a function of mirror position are made for a source width of five quarter wavelengths and are compared to a classical optics calculation of the singles intensity. The coincidence intensity calculation, as expected, predicts a smaller interference effect than classical optics due to the photon localization. The singles intensity calculation also predicts the same reduction in the classical interference effect, as a consequence of the orthoganality of the final atom states.


Interference Effect Atomic Beam Intensity Calculation Quantum Mechanical Calculation Optical Interference 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. E. Engelke
    • 1
  • C. W. Engelke
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyHerbert H. Lehman College of The City University of New YorkBronx
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge

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