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Quantum Optics$
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John Garrison and Raymond Chiao

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780198508861

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198508861.001.0001

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The Quantum nature of light

The Quantum nature of light

(p.3) 1 The Quantum nature of light
Quantum Optics

J. C. Garrison

R. Y. Chiao

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a survey of early experimental results — the Planck spectrum, the photoelectric effect, and Compton scattering — that are usually presented as evidence for the existence of photons. The photon concept is indeed sufficient to explain these results, but it is not necessary. There are semi-classical models that explain the same data without introducing photons. The crucial experiment, in which light consisting of a single photon reflects from a beam splitter, depends on the essential indivisibility of photons, and it excludes all semi-classical descriptions of light. This discussion is followed by a preview of modern methods of production and detection of individual photons, e.g., spontaneous down conversion and Silicon avalanche-photodiode counters, together with an introduction to the quantum theory of light based on the correspondence principle.

Keywords:   Planck spectrum, photoelectric effect, Compton scattering, semi-classical model, down conversion, avalanche-photodiode, correspondence principle

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