Amplification of vacuum fluctuations by two-beam coupling in atomic vapors.
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We show both theoretically and experimentally that fluctuations of a weak probe beam are increased above the coherent-state shot-noise level as the beam interacts with a strong degenerate pump beam in an atomic vapor. The origin of this noise amplification process is the two-beam-coupling process between the pump beam and the vacuum sidebands of the probe beam. The major contribution to this excess noise arises from the quantum fluctuations of the atomic medium that are induced by the pump beam. We believe that this mechanism can be important in preventing the reduction of noise below the quantum-noise limit in experiments that utilize atomic vapors. 1994 The American Physical Society.