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Optics Express

Optics Express

  • Editor: J. H. Eberly
  • Vol. 9, Iss. 11 — Nov. 19, 2001
  • pp: 561–566

On the apparent superluminality of evanescent waves

Vera L. Brudny and W. Luis Mochán  »View Author Affiliations

Optics Express, Vol. 9, Issue 11, pp. 561-566 (2001)

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There have been many recent theoretical and experimental reports on the propagation of light pulses at speeds exceeding the speed of light in vacuum c within media with anomalous dispersion, either opaque or with gain. Superluminal propagation has also been reported within vacuum, in the case of inhomogeneous pulses. In this paper we show that the observations of superluminal and non-causal propagation of evanescent pulses under the conditions of frustrated internal reflection are only apparent, and that they can be simply explained employing an explicitly (sub)luminal causal theory. However, the usual one-dimensional approach to the analysis of pulse propagation has to be abandoned and the spatial extent of the incoming pulse along the directions normal to the propagation direction has to be accounted for to correctly interpret the propagation speed of these evanescent waves. We illustrate our theory with animations of the time development of a pulse built upon the Huygen’s construction.

© Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(020.1670) Atomic and molecular physics : Coherent optical effects
(270.5530) Quantum optics : Pulse propagation and temporal solitons
(350.5500) Other areas of optics : Propagation
(350.5720) Other areas of optics : Relativity

ToC Category:
Research Papers

Original Manuscript: October 19, 2001
Published: November 19, 2001

Vera Brudny and W. Luis Mochan, "On the apparent superluminality of evanescent waves," Opt. Express 9, 561-566 (2001)

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