Theory of photoelectric detection of light fluctuations

Mandel, L. ; Sudarshan, E. C. G. ; Wolf, E. (1964) Theory of photoelectric detection of light fluctuations Proceedings of the Physical Society, 84 (3). p. 435. ISSN 0370-1328

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The basic formulae governing the fluctuations of counts registered by photoelectric detectors in an optical field are derived. The treatment, which has its origin in Purcell's explanation of the Hanbury Brown-Twiss effect, is shown to apply to any quasi-monochromatic light, whether stationary or not, and whether of thermal origin or not. The representation of the classical wave amplitude, of the light by Gabor's complex analytic signal appears naturally in this treatment. It is shown that the correlation of counts registered by N separate photodetectors at N points in space is determined by a 2Nth order correlation function of the complex classical field. The variance of the individual counts is shown to be expressible as the sum of terms representing the effects of classical particles and classical waves, in analogy to a well-known result of Einstein relating to black-body radiation. Since the theory applies to correlation effects obtained with any type of light it applies, in particular, to the output of an optical maser, although, for a maser operating on one mode, correlation effects are likely to be very small.

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