Quantum theory of continuous measurements and its applications in quantum optics
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We present an overview of the quantum theory of continuous measurements and discuss some of its important applications in quantum optics. Quantum theory of continuous measurements is the appropriate generalization of the conventional formulation of quantum theory, which is adequate to deal with counting experiments where a detector monitors a system continuously over an interval of time and records the times of occurrence of a given type of event, such as the emission or arrival of a particle.
We first discuss the classical theory of counting processes and indicate how one arrives at the celebrated photon counting formula of Mandel for classical optical fields. We then discuss the inadequacies of the so called quantum Mandel formula. We explain how the unphysical results that arise from the quantum Mandel formula are due to the fact that the formula is obtained on the basis of an erroneous identification of the coincidence probability densities associated with a continuous measurement situation. We then summarize the basic framework of the quantum theory of continuous measurements as developed by Davies. We explain how a complete characterization of the counting process can be achieved by specifying merely the measurement transformation associated with the change in the state of the system when a single event is observed in an infinitesimal interval of time.
In order to illustrate the applications of the quantum theory of continuoius measurements in quantum optics, we first derive the photon counting probabilities of a single-mode free field and also of a single-mode field in interaction with an external source. We then discuss the general quantum counting formula of Chmara for a multi-mode electromagnetic field coupled to an external source. We explain how the Chmara counting formula is indeed the appropriate quantum generalization of the classical Mandel formula. To illustrate the fact that the quantum theory of continuous measurements has other diverse applications in quantum optics, besides the theory of photodetection, we summarize the theory of ‘quantum jumps’ developed by Zoller, Marte and Walls and Barchielli, where the continuous measurements framework is employed to evaluate the statistics of photon emission events in the resonance fluorescence of an atomic system.
M D Srinivas1 2
Volume 97, 2023
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