A Quantum Electrodynamic View of Superradiance as a Competition Between Stimulated and Spontaneous Atomic Decay

  • K. G. Whitney
Conference paper


A number of treatments of cooperative, or “superradiant”, spontaneous decay of N similarly excited two-level atoms have been presented lately. [1]–[7] In broad outline all of these treatments give the same result: The peak emitted power is proportional to N2 and the system’s radiative lifetime is shortened by a factor 1/N. In some details, however, marked differences have been noted. In particular, fully quantum electrodynamic and fully semiclassical treatments differ widely in several respects. Consider these two, for example:
  1. (1)

    Time to peak emission of a system completely excited. QED says the time to reach peak emission is finite, while semiclassical theory says that it is infinite.

  2. (2)

    Frequency modulation of the emitted field. QED in general does not account for it, while semiclassical theory says it is present, possibly even large, and describes it in detail.



Spontaneous Decay Ground State Atom Bloch Vector Semiclassical Theory Bloch State 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. G. Whitney
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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