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Conference Paper

Quantum Electrodynamics of One-Photon Wave Packets


Stobinska,  M.
Optics Theory Group, Leuchs Division, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;


Leuchs,  G.
Leuchs Division, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;

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Stobinska, M., Alber, G., & Leuchs, G. (2010). Quantum Electrodynamics of One-Photon Wave Packets. In ADVANCES IN QUANTUM CHEMISTRY, VOL 60: UNSTABLE STATES IN THE CONTINUOUS SPECTRA, PART 1: ANALYSIS, CONCEPTS, METHODS, AND RESULTS (pp. 457-483). 525 B STREET, SUITE 1900, SAN DIEGO, CA 92101-4495 USA: ELSEVIER ACADEMIC PRESS INC.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-6B63-F
Rapid advances in quantum technology have made possible the control of quantum states of elementary material quantum systems, such as atoms or molecules, and of the electromagnetic radiation field resulting from spontaneous photon emission of their unstable excited states to such a level of precision that subtle quantum electrodynamical phenomena have become observable experimentally. Recent developments in the area of quantum information processing demonstrate that characteristic quantum electrodynamical effects can even be exploited for practical purposes provided the relevant electromagnetic field modes are controlled by appropriate cavities. A central problem in this context is the realization of an ideal transfer of quantum information between a state of a material quantum system and a quantum state of the electromagnetic radiation field which contains a small number or even a single photon only. Despite much recent work in cavity quantum electrodynamics, which has explored this problem successfully in cases in which the number of accessible electromagnetic field modes is strongly restricted by a cavity, currently still much less is known about ideal quantum state transfer between matter and few-photon quantum states of the electromagnetic field in the extreme opposite case of free space. In this contribution we review recent work which explores characteristic quantum electrodynamical phenomena governing the interaction of a material quantum system with the electromagnetic field in extreme many-mode cases which are close to cavity-free situations. For this purpose the simplest possible quantum electrodynamical situation, namely the interaction of a single material two-level system with the wave packet of a single optical photon, is investigated in free space and in situations in which a large cavity modifies the mode structure of the electromagnetic field modes. It is demonstrated that perfect excitation of an atom by a properly shaped single-photon wave packet is possible even in free space. In particular, it is demonstrated that perfect excitation of an atom can be achieved by a single optical photon which is prepared initially in an appropriate superposition of plane-wave modes, provided this photon is focused subsequently onto the absorbing atom by a parabolic cavity.