Physics

When Photons Bunch

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Science  25 Feb 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5713, pp. 1171
DOI: 10.1126/science.307.5713.1171a

Being bosons, photons like to group together, with the behavior of photon bunching described as an attribute of classical light. At the other extreme, photons emitted by a single emitter are expected to antibunch, trickling out of the emitter one at a time. Although bunching and antibunching are well established behaviors of classical and nonclassical light, respectively, the transition between the two has not been observed. It is expected that as the number of emitters is increased, a smooth transition should occur. Using a high-quality cavity into which they can place a variable number of atoms, Hennrich et al. show that they can probe the transition systematically as the number of emitters (atoms in the cavity) is gradually increased. They observe that the antibunching behavior disappears when the average number of atoms in the cavity is one, and they are able to explain the experimental data well if the emitters are assumed to form an independent ensemble. — ISO

Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 053604 (2005).

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