Radiative atom-atom interactions in optically dense media: Quantum corrections to the Lorentz-Lorenz formula
- Abstract: Generalized single-atom Maxwell-Bloch equations for optically dense media are derived taking into account non-cooperative radiative atom-atom interactions. Applying a Gaussian approximation and formally eliminating the degrees of freedom of the quantized radiation field and of all but a probe atom leads to an effective time-evolution operator for the probe atom. The mean coherent amplitude of the local field seen by the atom is shown to be given by the classical Lorentz-Lorenz relation. The second-order correlations of the field lead to terms that describe relaxation or pump processes and level shifts due to multiple scattering or reabsorption of spontaneously emitted photons. In the Markov limit a non-linear and nonlocal single-atom density matrix equation is derived. To illustrate the effects of the quantum corrections we discuss amplified spontaneous emission and radiation trapping in a dense ensemble of initially inverted two-level atoms and the effects of radiative interactions on intrinsic optical bistability in coherently driven systems.