A landmark in the development of quantum electrodynamics was the discovery that emission–reabsorption of virtual photons modifies the value of energy levels in an atom from those computed by using Dirac’s equation (Lamb shift). An early result of statistical quantum electrodynamics was that the exchange of virtual photons in an ensemble of identical atoms leads as well to a change in the frequency of the radiation emitted from this system (cooperative Lamb shift). Dicke’s discovery that coherence effects lead to the shortening of the emission lifetime from a small sample by a factor equal to the number of atoms in the ensemble (superradiance or cooperative decay rate) was an early landmark in quantum optics. Both cooperative decay rate and cooperative Lamb shift were shown to have the same physical origin—the exchange of virtual photons, a process described by the Lienard–Wiechert dipole–dipole interaction. This effective potential is the kernel of the integral equation describing the dynamics of the system. This complex long-range kernel gives, for both cooperative quantities, strong dependence on the geometry of the atomic cloud. I summarize the known expressions for the initial cooperative decay rate and the cooperative Lamb shift in different geometries. The results for both the scalar photon and the vector photon (electrodynamics) theories for experimentally realizable systems of either uniform or phased polarization are given.
© 2012 OSA
Original Manuscript: April 16, 2012
Revised Manuscript: May 21, 2012
Manuscript Accepted: May 21, 2012
Published: June 26, 2012
(2012) Advances in Optics and Photonics
Jamal T. Manassah, "Cooperative radiation from atoms in different geometries: decay rate and frequency shift," Adv. Opt. Photon. 4, 108-156 (2012)