Multiple-scattering approach to interatomic interactions and superradiance in inhomogeneous dielectrics

C.M. Wubs, L.G. Suttorp, Aart Lagendijk

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The dynamics of a collection of resonant atoms embedded inside an inhomogeneous nondispersive and lossless dielectric is described with a dipole Hamiltonian that is based on a canonical quantization theory. The dielectric is described macroscopically by a position-dependent dielectric function and the atoms as microscopic harmonic oscillators. We identify and discuss the role of several types of Green tensors that describe the spatio-temporal propagation of field operators. After integrating out the atomic degrees of freedom, a multiple-scattering formalism emerges in which an exact Lippmann-Schwinger equation for the electric field operator plays a central role. The equation describes atoms as point sources and point scatterers for light. First, single-atom properties are calculated such as position-dependent spontaneous-emission rates as well as differential cross sections for elastic scattering and for resonance fluorescence. Secondly, multiatom processes are studied. It is shown that the medium modifies both the resonant and the static parts of the dipole-dipole interactions. These interatomic interactions may cause the atoms to scatter and emit light cooperatively. Unlike in free space, differences in position-dependent emission rates and radiative line shifts influence cooperative decay in the dielectric. As a generic example, it is shown that near a partially reflecting plane there is a sharp transition from two-atom superradiance to single-atom emission as the atomic positions are varied.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)053823/1-053823/17
Number of pages17
JournalPhysical review A: Atomic, molecular, and optical physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • IR-48063
  • METIS-219201

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