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Definition: collective emission of an ensemble of atoms or ions after coherent excitation

German: Superradianz

Category: quantum optics

How to cite the article; suggest additional literature


Superradiance is a phenomenon of collective emission of an ensemble of excited atoms or ions, first considered by Dicke [1]. It is similar to superfluorescence, but it starts with the coherent excitation of the ensemble, usually with an optical pulse. This coherence (i.e. a well-defined phase relationship between the excitation amplitudes of lower and upper electronic states) leads to a macroscopic dipole moment. The maximum intensity of the emitted light scales with the square of the number of atoms, because each atom contributes a certain amount to the emission amplitude, and the intensity is proportional to the square of the amplitude.

The term superradiance can be understood by considering that it can also lead to very high values of radiance.

As the number of photons rises in a kind of chain reaction, Dicke later (in a patent application) described the phenomenon of superradiance as an optical bomb.


[1]R. H. Dicke, “Coherence in spontaneous emission processes”, Phys. Rev. 93 (1), 99 (1954)
[2]N. E. Rehler and J. H. Eberly, “Superradiance”, Phys. Rev. A 3 (5), 1735 (1971)
[3]R. Bonifacio et al., “Quantum statistical theory of superradiance. I”, Phys. Rev. A 4 (1), 302 (1971)

(Suggest additional literature!)

See also: superfluorescence
and other articles in the category quantum optics


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