The classical limit of quantum optics: Not what it seems at first sight

Yakir Aharonov, Alonso Botero, Shmuel Nussinov, Sandu Popescu*, Jeff Tollaksen, Lev Vaidman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What light is and how to describe it has always been a central subject in physics. As our understanding has increased, so have our theories changed: geometrical optics, wave optics and quantum optics are increasingly sophisticated descriptions, each referring to a larger class of phenomena than its predecessor. But how exactly are these theories related? How and when wave optics reduces to geometric optics is a rather simple problem. Similarly, how quantum optics reduces to wave optics has also been considered to be a very simple business. It is not so. As we show here the classical limit of quantum optics is a far more complicated issue; it is in fact dramatically more involved and it requires a complete revision of all our intuitions. The revised intuitions can then serve as a guide to finding novel quantum effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number093006
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - Sep 2013


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme291574


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