Quantum Effects in the Interference of Light

  • L. Mandel
Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 10)


Interference effects produced by two sources of light are discussed within the framework of the quantum electrodynamic interpretation. Interference should disappear when all the source atoms are in the fully excited state, and this prediction may distinguish between quantum mechanics and various guided wave theories. The introduction of a light amplifier into an interferometer arm cannot unambiguously determine the path of the photon, because of spontaneous emission effects. Quantum mechanics, like classical wave optics, therefore predicts only a reduction of visibility in such interference experiments. In the special case of an interference experiment in which the two light sources consist of two single atoms, two photons cannot be found simultaneously at two positions that are separated by an odd number of half interference fringes. This quantum mechanical prediction amounts to another kind of EPR paradox, and should lend itself to another experimental test of the theory.


Interference Effect Interference Pattern Interference Fringe Probability Amplitude Interference Experiment 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Mandel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physics and AstronomyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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