Part of the book: Laser Pulse Phenomena and Applications
The physical interaction processes behind the emergence of dark and bright fringes registered by the detectors at the output of optical interferometers is explained. This knowledge should be helpful to interferometrists to make better physical interpretations of their data. The belief in mysterious “interference of single indivisible photon” will disappear once we recognize that the spatial or temporal energy re-distributions are generated by the physical transformation experienced by the detecting molecules drawing energy from all the light beams. The molecules could be photodetectors at the interferometer output, or the beam combining dielectric boundary. The superposition principle (SP), represented by the linear mathematical sum of two or more wave amplitudes, does not represent an observable phenomenon. The superposition effect (SE), represented by the non-linear square modulus of the joint dipolar stimulation of the detectors by all the superposed waves, is observable. We present two laboratory experiments to clarify these points. Both classical beam combiners and quantum detectors are capable of generating superposition fringes of intensity variations. The logic of “quantumness” of light is narrowly relevant only when a quantum detector deciphers the fringes; it is not valid for classical beam combiners. We will also discuss “entanglement” based on these experiments.
Part of the book: Interferometry
In the domain of light emissions, quantum mechanics has been an immensely successful guiding tool for us. In the propagation of light and optical instrument design, Huygens-Fresnel diffraction integral (HFDI) (or its advanced versions) and Maxwell’s wave equation are continuing to be the essential guiding tools for optical scientists and engineers. In fact, most branches of optical science and engineering, like optical instrument design, image processing, Fourier optics, Holography, etc., cannot exist without using the foundational postulates behind the Huygens-Fresnel diffraction integral. Further, the field of structured light is also growing where phases and the state of polarizations are manipulated usually with suitable classical macro-devices to create wave fronts that restructured through light-matter interactions through these devices. Mathematical modeling of generating such complex wave fronts generally follows classical concepts and classical macro tools of physical optics. Some of these complex light beams can impart mechanical angular momentum and spin-like properties to material particles inserted inside these structured beams because of their electromagnetic dipolar properties and/or structural anisotropy. Does that mean these newly structured beams have acquired new quantum properties without being generated through quantum devices and quantum transitions? In this chapter, we bridge the classical and quantum formalism by defining a hybrid photon (HP). HP is a quantum of energy, hν, at the initial moment of emission. It then immediately evolves into a classical time-finite wave packet, still transporting the original energy, hν, with a classical carrier frequency ν (oscillation of the E-vector). This chapter will raise enquiring questions whether all these observed “quantum-like” behaviors are manifestations of the joint properties of interacting material particles with classical EM waves or are causal implications of the existence of propagation of “indivisible light quanta” with exotic properties like spin, angular momentum, etc.
Part of the book: Single Photon Manipulation