The photon wave function Conference Paper uri icon


  • We review and sharpen the concept of a photon wave function based on the quantum theory of light. We argue that a point-like atom serves as the archetype for both the creation and detection of photons. Spontaneous emission from atoms provides a spatially localized source of photon states that serves as a natural wave packet basis for quantum states of light. Photodetection theory allows us to give operational meaning to the photon wave function which, for single photons, is analogous to the electric field in classical wave optics. Entanglement between photons, and the uniquely quantum phenomena that result from it, are exemplified by two-photon wave functions.

name of conference

  • The Nature of Light: What Is a Photon?

published proceedings

  • Nature of Light: What is a Photon?

author list (cited authors)

  • Muthukrishnan, A., Scully, M. O., & Zubairy, M. S.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Muthukrishnan, A||Scully, MO||Zubairy, MS

editor list (cited editors)

  • Roychoudhuri, C., & Creath, K.

publication date

  • August 2005