Initially light was though of as a wave because it experienced interference as shown by experiments such as:
But then, some key experiments also start suggesting that light is made up of discrete packets:
and in the understanding of the 2020 Standard Model the photon is one of the elementary particles.
- compton scattering, also suggests that photons carry momentum
- photoelectric effect
- single photon production and detection experiments
This duality is fully described mathematically by quantum electrodynamics, where the photon is modelled as a quantized excitation of the photon field.
The history of light if funny.
First people thought it was a particle, as per corpuscular theory of light, notably Newton supported the corpuscular theory of light.
But then evidence of the diffraction of light start to become unbearably strong, culminating in the Arago spot.
And finally it was undertood from Maxwell's equations that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation, as its speed was perfectly predicted by the theory.
But then evidence of particle nature started to surface once again with the photoelectric effect. Physicists must have been driven mad by all these changes.
The Quantum Story by Jim Baggott (2011) page 2 mentions how newton's support for the corpuscular theory of light led it to be held for a very long time, even when evidence of the wave theory of light was becoming overwhelming.
Experiments: speed of light experiments.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light#First_measurement_attempts Rømer and Christiaan Huygens reached 26% accuracy by the observation of Jupiter's moon!
It is so mind blowing that people believed in this theory. How can you think that, when you turn on a lamp and then you see? Obviously, the lamp must be emitting something!!!
Then comes along this epic 2002 paper: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12094435/ "Fundamentally misunderstanding visual perception. Adults' belief in visual emissions". TODO review methods...
In special relativity, it is impossible to travel faster than light.
One argument of why, is that if you could travel faster than light, then you could send a message to a point in Spacetime that is spacelike-separated from the present. But then since the target is spacelike separated, there exists a inertial frame of reference in which that event happens before the present, which would be hard to make sense of.
Even worse, it would be possible to travel back in time:
- www.physicsmatt.com/blog/2016/8/25/why-ftl-implies-time-travel shows the causality violation on a Spacetime diagram
Notably used for communication with submarines, so in particular crucial as part of sending an attack signal to that branch of the nuclear triad.
This is likely the easiest one to produce as the frequencies are lower, which is why it was discovered first. TODO original setup.
Also because it is transparent to brick and glass, (though not metal) it becomes good for telecommunication.
Some notable subranges:
Micro means "small wavelength compared to radio waves", not micron-sized.
Microwave production and detection is incredibly important in many modern applications:
- telecommunications, e.g. being used in
- satellite communications
youtu.be/EYovBJR6l5U?list=PL-_93BVApb58SXL-BCv4rVHL-8GuC2WGb&t=27 from CuriousMarc comments on some piece of Apollo equipment they were restoring/reversing:
These are the boxes that brought you voice, data and live TV from the moon, and should be early masterpieces of microwave electronics, the blackest of black arts in analog electronics.Ah, Ciro Santilli really wishes he knew what that meant more precisely. Sounds so cool!
- 4G and other cellular network standards
- radar. As an example, 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Julian Schwinger did some notable work in the area in World War II, while most other physicists went to the Manhattan Project instead.This is well highlighted in QED and the men who made itby Silvan Schweber (1994). Designing the cavity wasn't easy. One of the key initial experiments of quantum electrodynamics, the Lamb-Retherford experiment from 1947, fundamental for modern physics, was a direct consequence of post-radar research by physicists who started to apply wartime developments to their scientific search.Wikipedia also mentions en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Microwave&oldid=1093188913#Radar_2:
The first modern silicon and germanium diodes were developed as microwave detectors in the 1930s, and the principles of semiconductor physics learned during their development led to semiconductor electronics after the war.
- microwave is the natural frequency of several important Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics phenomena, and has been used extensively in quantum computing applications, including completely different types of quantum computer type:Likely part of the appeal of microwaves is that they are non-ionizing, so you don't destroy stuff. But at the same time, they are much more compatible with atomic scale energies than radio waves, which have way way too little energy.
- trapped ion quantum computer; Video "Trapping Ions for Quantum Computing by Diana Craik (2019)"
- superconducting quantum computer; e.g. this Junior Microwave Design Engineer job accouncement from Alice&Bob: archive.ph/wip/4wGPJ
Microwave only found applications into the 1940s and 1950s, much later than radio, because good enough sources were harder to develop.
One notable development was the cavity magnetron in 1940, which was the basis for the original radar systems of World War II.
Apparently, DC current comes in, and microwaves come out.
TODO: sample power efficienty of this conversion and output spectrum of this conversion on some cheap device we can buy today.
Finance is a cancer of society. But I have to admit it, it's kind of cool.
arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/11/private-microwave-networks-financial-hft/ The secret world of microwave networks (2016) Fantastic article.
420 to 680 nm for sure, but larger ranges are observable in laboratory conditions.
Original 1931 experiment by Raman and Bhagavantam: dspace.rri.res.in/bitstream/2289/2123/1/1931%20IJP%20V6%20p353.pdf
Experimental setup to observe radiation pressure in the laboratory.
Application of radiation pressure.
First live example: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IKAROS
You can't get more direct than this in terms of proving that photons exist!
The particular case of the double-slit experiment will be discussed at: single particle double slit experiment.
- iopscience.iop.org/book/978-0-7503-3063-3.pdf Quantum Mechanics in the Single Photon Laboratory by Waseem, Ilahi and Anwar (2020)
Phenomena that produces photons in pairs as it passes through a certain type of crystal.
You can then detect one of the photons, and when you do you know that the other one is there as well and ready to be used. two photon interference experiment comes to mind, which is the basis of photonic quantum computer, where you need two photons to be produced at the exact same time to produce quantum entanglement.
The basic experiment for a photonic quantum computer.
Can be achieved in two ways it seems:
- macroscopic beam splitter and optical table
Animation of Hong-Ou-Mandel Effect on a silicon like structure by Quantum Light University of Sheffield (2014): www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld2r2IMt4vg No maths, but gives the result clear: the photons are always on the same side.
Can be used to detect single photons.
Richard Feynman likes them, he describes the tube at Richard Feynman Quantum Electrodynamics Lecture at University of Auckland (1979) at one point.
It uses the photoelectric effect multiple times to produce a chain reaction.
Here is a vendor showcasing their device. They claim in that video that a single photon is produced and detected:
Concrete device described at: Video 7. "How to use an SiPM - Experiment Video by SensLTech (2018)".
A squeezed coherent state of light.
Often just called collimated light due to the collimator being the main procedure to obtain it.
However, you move very far away from the source, e.g. the Sun, you also get essentially parallel light.
The most important type of lens is the biconvex spherical lens.
Each side is a sphere section. They don't have to have the same radius, they are still simple to understand with different radiuses.
The two things you have to have in mind that this does are:
- converges parallel light to a point at center at distance known as the focal length.This is for example why you can use lenses to burn things with Sun rays, which are basically parallel.Conversely, if the input is a point light source at the focal length, it gets converted into parallel light.
- image formation: it converges all rays coming from a given source point to a single point image. This amplifies the signal, and forms an image at a plane.The source image can be far away, and the virtual image can be close to the lens. This is exactly what we need for a camera.For each distance on one side, it only works for another distance on the other side. So when we set the distance between the lens and the detector, this sets the distance of the source object, i.e. the focus. The equation is: and are the two distances.
If you pass parallel light.
For a biconvex spherical lens, it is given by:
- n: f nidnex
Subsidiary of Carl Zeiss AG and also part owned by ASML, sole optics vendor of ASML as of 2020.
Can be approximated with a diaphragm.
A bit more photon-specific than optics.
- 2023: 1.1m pounds www.uktech.news/deep-tech/lumai-grant-20230215
The knowledge that light is polarized precedes the knowledge of the existence of the photon, see polarization of light for the classical point of view.
The polarization state and how it can be decomposed into different modes can be well visualized with the Poincaré sphere.
One key idea about photon polarization is that it carries angular momentum. Therefore, when an electron changes orbitals in the Schrödinger equation solution for the hydrogen atom, the angular momentum (as well as energy) change is carried out by the polarization of the photon!
This section discusses the pre-photon understanding of the polarization of light. For the photon one see: photon polarization.
polarization.com/history/history.html is a good page.
People were a bit confused when experiments started to show that light might be polarized. How could a wave that propages through a 3D homgenous material like luminiferous aether have polarization?? Light would presumably be understood to be analogous to a sound wave in 3D medium, which cannot have polarization. This was before Maxwell's equations, in the early 19th century, so there was no way to know.
A device that modifies photon polarization.
As mentioned at Video 19. "Quantum Mechanics 9b - Photon Spin and Schrodinger's Cat II by ViaScience (2013)", it can be modelled as a bra.
Good overgrown section in the middle of Fresnel's biography: en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Augustin-Jean_Fresnel&oldid=1064236740#Historical_context:_From_Newton_to_Biot.
Particularly cool is to see how Fresnel fully understood that light is somehow polarized, even though he did not know that it was made out of electromagnetism, clear indication of which only came with the Faraday effect in 1845.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the only known way to generate polarized light was with a calcite crystal. In 1808, using a calcite crystal, Malus discovered that natural incident light became polarized when it was reflected by a glass surface, and that the light reflected close to an angle of incidence of 57° could be extinguished when viewed through the crystal. He then proposed that natural light consisted of the s- and p-polarizations, which were perpendicular to each other.
Matches the quantum superposition probability proportional to the square law. Poor Étienne-Louis Malus, who died so much before this was found.
A more photon-specific version of the Bloch sphere.
In it, each of the six sides has a clear and simple to understand photon polarization state, either of:
- diagonal up/diagonal down
- rotation clockwise/counterclockwise
The sphere clearly suggests for example that a rotational or diagonal polarizations are the combination of left/right with the correct phase. This is clearly explained at: Video 19. "Quantum Mechanics 9b - Photon Spin and Schrodinger's Cat II by ViaScience (2013)".
An optical multiplexer!
The breadboard of photonics!
For example, that is how most modern microscopes are prototyped, see for example Video "Two Photon Microscopy by Nemonic NeuroNex (2019)".
This is kind of why they are also sometimes called "optical breadboarbds", since breadboards are what we use for early prototyping in electronics. Wikipedia however says "optical breadboard" is a simpler and cheaper type of optical table with less/no stabilization.
- Atomic clock
- Bloch sphere
- Color confinement
- Compton scattering
- Dirac equation
- Double-slit experiment
- Higgs boson
- History of quantum mechanics
- Maxwell's equations
- Particle creation and annihilation
- Photoelectric effect
- Photon polarization
- Photonic quantum computer
- Planck-Einstein relation
- Poincaré sphere
- Polarization of light
- Quantum electrodynamics
- Quantum entanglement
- Quantum field theory
- Richard Feynman Quantum Electrodynamics Lecture at University of Auckland (1979)
- Single particle double slit experiment
- Single photon production and detection experiments
- Timeline of quantum mechanics