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10 September 2009 Indivisibility of the photon
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Abstract
The 'graininess' in the energy content of light is reported in experiments ranging from the blackbody spectrum and photo-electric effect to revivals in the Jaynes-Cummings model. Laser shot noise and antibunching of correlations in resonance fluorescence signify a departure from continuous wave behavior for light. Such phenomena underlie the unique sense in which a photon is regarded as an indivisible particle, experimentally tied to the fact that a beam splitter does not split a single photon of a two-photon pair. We consider three arguments for indivisibility - quantization of energy, particle-like fluctuations, and which-way measurements. We argue that in each case, photon indivisibility is an inference based on energy conserving interactions where the detection mechanism involves countable electrons subject to space and bandwidth limitations. The indivisibility of the photon thus remains an open question, and one that we can use to probe the foundations of quantum electrodynamics.
© (2009) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Ashok Muthukrishnan and Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri "Indivisibility of the photon", Proc. SPIE 7421, The Nature of Light: What are Photons? III, 742105 (10 September 2009); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.828512
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