Traditionally, the active material in a laser is modelled as independent emitters, but in recent years it has become increasingly clear that radiative coupling between emitters can significantly change the characteristics of small lasers. Collective effects in free space such as superradiance have been studied extensively [1,2], but the effects of inter-emitter correlation in micro- and nano-cavities need further examination to be put on firm theoretical ground. Several studies of collective effects in nano-cavities have been made [3-6], but the theoretical models employed are intricate, and numerical methods are needed both to generate the dynamic equations and to solve them. We propose a model where the complexity is strongly reduced, allowing analytical solutions .
We consider a collection of identical two-level emitters interacting with a single cavity mode. We start from Maxwell-Bloch equations, but instead of making the typical adiabatic elimination of the polarization, we allow the polarization decay rate to be of the same magnitude or smaller than other decay rates. Hence, the traditional laser rate equations for the photon number and the population inversion must be supplemented by equations for the emitter-field correlation and the emitter-emitter correlation. This gives us four generalized laser rate equations, which we solve analytically in steady state.
Comparing with the steady state results obtained from the traditional laser rate equations we see that inclusion of collective effects leads to a reduction of the photon number for small pump rates, similarly to what is found in . From the generalized laser rate equations, we derive a measure of the strength of collective effects in terms of laser parameters: This describes the difference between results with and without inter-emitter correlations, and it goes smoothly to zero as we approach parameter values where the traditional laser rate equations become valid.
To gain insight into the photon statistics of the laser, we construct dynamic equations for higher order correlations of operators. We derive an analytical expression for the zero-delay photon auto-correlation function, and for low pump rates we find that the interaction of emitters results in super-thermal values of the auto-correlation. This feature is observed in experiments and numerical models [4-5], and with our analytical expressions, we are able to pinpoint the parameter combinations for which the collective effects have the largest impact.
Considering the same model in terms of the Fourier components of the operators, we find results for the photon number that agree well with the previous approach, while allowing computation of the linewidth. Thus, we can examine how emitter-emitter correlation affects the line broadening of the laser.