Optical properties of degenerate atomic gases

Date of Completion

January 1996


Chemistry, Physical|Physics, Molecular|Physics, Condensed Matter




We study interactions of light with a sample of two-level atoms. Quantum statistical effects of degenerate boson and fermion gases are described by using the quantum field theory of atom-photon interactions, fully including the angular momentum degeneracies. Coupled propagation equations are given for light and matter fields, and plausible general simplifications are enumerated.^ In the limit of large atom-field detuning, multiple scattering of light and QED linewidths and line shifts may be ignored, and the propagation equations of light and matter fields may be decoupled. A general expression for the spectrum of the scattered light is derived, complete with the dependence on atomic level scheme, on various light polarizations, and on the geometry of the experiment. With these simplifications we are able to find distinct qualitative features in the spectrum of the scattered light in the case of both fermions and bosons that depend on the statistics of atoms. This is because for bosons (fermions), those scattering events in which an atom recoils to an already occupied state are enhanced (inhibited).^ As the driving light gets closer to the atomic resonance, multiple scattering and vacuum fluctuations of the electromagnetic fields should also be taken into account. We write the equations of motion for the excited state field operators by eliminating the vacuum electromagnetic field. It is always assumed that the driving external laser field is in the coherent state. We find in the limit of low light intensity, a hierarchy of equations of motion for correlation functions that contain one excited-atom field and one, two, three, etc., ground state atom fields. It is conjectured that the entire linear hierarchy may be solved by solving numerically the classical equations for the coupled system of electromagnetic fields and charged harmonic oscillators. We discuss the emergence of resonant dipole-dipole interactions and collective linewidths, and delineate the limits of validity of the column density approach in terms of non-cooperative atoms by presenting a mathematical example in which this approach is exact. ^