Nonlinear Behaviour of Light at Very Low Intensities: The “Photon Clump” Model

  • E. Panarella
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (NSSB, volume 162)


This is essentially a review paper that deals initially with the analysis of the wave-particle duality notion for photons, as accepted today, namely as that of a particle and/or an associated wave. This model will be shown to be lacking at present adequate, direct and conclusive experimental proof, which is so crucial for the very existence of that model, despite the numerous experiments that have been done in the past and some novel experiments that are presented here. Starting from this situation of deficiency, a model of interacting photons is introduced from plausible arguments and an interaction law is derived. It will be shown that the main consequence of this model is that the single photon concept, as understood today, has to be abandoned in favour of a model of collection of photons, a “clump”, in which the individual photons are arranged in a geometrical wave pattern, much like a wave distribution. In this sense, therefore, the photon clump is both a particle and a wave and the model thus reconciles two concepts which are normally a source of some debate, namely the Dirac’s notion that a photon interferes only with itself, and the pilot wave concept of the Broglie. In fact, as far as the interference of a single photon with itself is concerned, such statement can now be reinterpreted as meaning that a photon clump contains all the elements of interference in itself, namely maxima and minima, because in the clump there are maxima and minima of photon number density distribution. As far as the pilot wave of de Broglie is concerned, its reality and its real meaning are readily retrieved from this model. It is, in fact, the interaction among photons responsible for guiding them on a wave distribution within a clump. Rather than being separate entities, the particles and their wave geometrical distribution are coexisting and inseparable properties of what should now be said an element or an “atom” of light.


Single Photon Photon Flux Interference Pattern Photographic Plate Neutral Density Filter 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Panarella
    • 1
  1. 1.National Research CouncilOttawaCanada

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