Quantum electrodynamics in the presence of dielectrics and conductors. IV. General theory for spontaneous emission in finite geometries Academic Article uri icon


  • A quantum-electrodynamic theory of spontaneous emission in presence of dielectrics and conductors is developed. The theory makes use of the master-equation techniques and the response-function formalism of part I of this series of papers. Various observable entities such as damping coefficients (lifetimes), Lamb shifts, and frequency shifts are related to the appropriate surface-dependent response functions. The results are valid for arbitrary geometries (involving linear dielectrics) and naturally contain, as a special case, the usual results of spontaneous emission in free space. As explicit examples we consider a two-level atom (also the multilevel atom) in presence of a plane dielectric interface and between two conducting plates. Formulas for the shifts and widths are given and their asymptotic behavior for large and short distances is discussed. The behavior when the atom is embedded inside the dielectric is different than when the atom is outside the dielectric. The origin of coherence in the present model is discussed and the coherence effects in this model are contrasted with those in Dicke's model. The results are also compared with those obtained by the image method. Exact expressions for the operator radiation-reaction fields are obtained in terms of the atomic polarization operators and response functions. Approximate results for such fields are also given. The far-zone behavior of the radiation fields is obtained in terms of response functions and the polarization operators. Some of the normally ordered correlation functions are also calculated. The connection of some of the theoretical results with a recent experimental work of Carniglia, Mandel, and Drexhage is discussed. The effect of anisotropy of the dielectric function on the lifetimes as well as on the far-field correlation functions is also considered. Finally the contribution to the shifts and widths due to the excitation of surface polariton modes is computed and the results are compared with those obtained by the quantization of surface polariton field. It is found that such surface modes contribute significantly to widths. 1975 The American Physical Society.

published proceedings

  • Physical Review A

author list (cited authors)

  • Agarwal, G. S.

citation count

  • 209

complete list of authors

  • Agarwal, GS

publication date

  • October 1975