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Abstract: Spontaneous emission and Lamb shift of atoms in absorbing dielectrics are discussed. A Green's-function approach is used based on the multipolar interaction Hamiltonian of a collection of atomic dipoles with the quantised radiation field. The rate of decay and level shifts are determined by the retarded Green's-function of the interacting electric displacement field, which is calculated from a Dyson equation describing multiple scattering. The positions of the atomic dipoles forming the dielectrics are assumed to be uncorrelated and a continuum approximation is used. The associated unphysical interactions between different atoms at the same location is eliminated by removing the point-interaction term from the free-space Green's-function (local field correction). For the case of an atom in a purely dispersive medium the spontaneous emission rate is altered by the well-known Lorentz local-field factor. In the presence of absorption a result different from previously suggested expressions is found and nearest-neighbour interactions are shown to be important.

Abstract: Resonant optical pumping in dense atomic media is discussed, where the absorption length is less than the smallest characteristic dimension of the sample. It is shown that reabsorption and multiple scattering of spontaneous photons (radiation trapping) can substantially slow down the rate of optical pumping. A very slow relaxation out of the target state of the pump process is then sufficient to make optical pumping impossible. As model systems an inhomogeneously and a radiatively broadened 3-level system resonantly driven with a strong broad-band pump field are considered.

Abstract: We analyze the long-time quantum dynamics of degenerate parametric down-conversion from an initial sub-harmonic vacuum (spontaenous down-conversion). Standard linearization of the Heisenberg equations of motions fails in this case, since it is based on an expansion around an unstable classical solution and neglects pump depletion. Introducing a mean-field approximation we find a periodic exchange of energy between the pump and subharmonic mode goverened by an anharmonic pendulum equation. From this equation the optimum interaction time or crystal length for maximum conversion can be determined. A numerical integration of the 2-mode Schrödinger equation using a dynamically optimized basis of displaced and squeezed number states verifies the characteristic times predicted by the mean-field approximation. In contrast to semiclassical and mean-field predictions it is found that quantum uctuations of the pump mode lead to a substantial limitation of the efficiency of parametric down-conversion.

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.

Abstract: The effect of intracavity Electromagnetically Induced Transparency on the properties of optical resonators and active laser devices is discussed theoretically. A pronounced frequency pulling and cavity linewidth narrowing are predicted. The effect can be used to substantially reduce classical and quantum phase noise of the beat-note of optical oscillators. Fundamental limits of this stabilization mechanism are discussed as well as its potential application to high-resolution spectroscopy.

Introduction: Recent developments in quantum communication and computing [1-3] stimulated an intensive search for physical systems that can be used for coherent processing of quantum information. It is generally believed that quantum entanglement of distinguishable quantum bits (qubits) is at the heart of quantum information processing. Significant efforts have been directed towards the design of elementary logic gates, which perform certain unitary processes on pairs of qubits. These gates must be capable of generating specific, in general entangled, superpositions of the two qubits and thus require a strong qubit-qubit interaction. Using a sequence of single and two-bit operations, an arbitrary quantum computation can be performed [2]. Over the past few years many systems have been identified for potential implementations of logic gates and several interesting experiments have been performed. Proposals for strong qubit-qubit interaction involve e.g. the vibrational coupling of cooled trapped ions [4], near dipole-dipole or spin-spin interactions such as in nuclear magnetic resonance [5], collisional interactions of confined cooled atoms [6] or radiative interactions between atoms in cavity QED [7]. The possibility of simple preparation and measurement of qubit states as well as their relative insensitivity to a thermal environment makes the latter schemes particularly interesting for quantum information processing. Most theoretical proposals on cavity-QED systems focus on fundamental systems involving a small number of atoms and few photons. These systems are sufficiently simple to allow for a first-principle description. Their experimental implementation is however quite challenging. For example, extremely high-Q micro-cavities are needed to preserve coherence during all atom-photon interactions. Furthermore, single atoms have to be confined inside the cavities for a sufficiently long time. This requires developments of novel cooling and trapping techniques, which is in itself a fascinating direction of current research. Despite these technical obstacles, a remarkable progress has been made in this area: quantum processors consisting of several coupled qubits now appear to be feasible.