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Physics & Computer Science


We consider a laser model consisting of a single four-level or three-level atom, an optical cavity, and an incoherent pump. Results for photon statistics for varying pump levels are obtained using a quantum trajectory algorithm. In particular, we calculate the mean photon number, Fano factor (which is the variance over the mean). We examine that the behavior of the single-atom device as β, the fraction of spontaneous emission into the lasing mode, is varied. Typical values considered for β are 0.01<β<1.0. We find that for large enough β, lasing action, with properties similar to those predicted by semiclassical theories that factorize atom-field correlations and use a small-noise approximation, can occur. Squeezing can occur as β is increased. There is no evidence of a sharp phase transition from weakly excited thermal light to coherent light at a particular pump power. This is consistent with work on many-atom lasers with β values in the range considered here. As β is increased, the output goes from quasithermal light to coherent and finally to squeezed light, progressing into a fully quantum-mechanical regime. We also consider the effects of cavity damping and spontaneous emission rates on these results.


This article was origianlly published in Physical Review A, 60(4): 3267-3275. © 1999 The American Physical Society