1 October 2013 The photon concept revisited: role of cooperative virtual processes in light harvesting
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The usefulness of the photon concept has been debated since its original proposal by Einstein in 1905. The photon picture has evolved via the “fuzzy-ball” and stochastic to the entangled, intrinsically quantum mechanical entity. However, in spite of the recent progress, questions about the nature of light still arise and often cause confusion from misinterpretations of various light-matter interaction phenomena. Questions are frequently asked about the existence of a `wave function for the photon’ and about the photon localization. Many light-matter interactions may be described using semiclassical theory and the question is when and where the quantum theory of radiation is needed to provide the best description? Here, we extend the discussion of these issues from several previous works on this subject. We use the definition of the photon wave function described by Scully and coworkers to discuss the photon detection in the context of single atoms and “giant atom” ensembles. We review the role of virtual photons, and discuss the effects of cooperative virtual processes on light harvesting efficiency of photodetectors and photosynthetic biological systems. Noise-induced quantum coherence may increase the performance of these quantum heat engines and the efficiency of photon harvesting.
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Dmitri V. Voronine, Dmitri V. Voronine, Amitabh Joshi, Amitabh Joshi, Philip Vetter, Philip Vetter, "The photon concept revisited: role of cooperative virtual processes in light harvesting", Proc. SPIE 8832, The Nature of Light: What are Photons? V, 88320N (1 October 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2025974; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2025974

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