Master-Equation Approach to Spontaneous Emission Academic Article uri icon


  • Spontaneous emission from a system of N identical two-level atoms is considered using a master equation recently derived by the author. The master equation describing the time evolution of the phase-space distribution function associated with the reduced density operator of the atomic system is obtained. This master equation, which is of the type of a Fokker-Planck equation, is used to derive the equation of motion for the mean values of various atomic operators characterizing the physical properties of the system. This leads to a hierarchy of equations, which is decoupled by making a suitable approximation. The intensity of the spontaneously emitted radiation is then calculated. Next, the spontaneous emission from geometrically small systems is considered. For this case, the master equation is solved exactly, and an exact expression for the radiation rate is obtained. The exact solution of the master equation is also used to calculate the normally ordered correlation functions for the electric field. Section V deals with the spontaneous emission from a system of harmonic oscillators, the size of the system being small compared to a wavelength. The master equation for this problem is also solved exactly, and it is shown that this system also leads to superradiant emission in some cases, e.g., if all the oscillstors are excited initially to some coherent state |z0. 1970 The American Physical Society.

published proceedings

  • Physical Review A

author list (cited authors)

  • Agarwal, G. S.

citation count

  • 196

complete list of authors

  • Agarwal, GS

publication date

  • November 1970