Non-Markovian Effects in Spontaneous Emission: Deviations from the Exponential Decay ‘Law’
In this paper we re-examine the validity of the exponential decay law in atomic spontaneous emission theory. The observation of exponential decay is considered by many to test quantum electrodynamics (QED) in a fundamental dynamical sense. We have to date no evidence which contradicts QED, but the increasing utilization of tunable coherent light sources has made possible optical tests in totally new regimes until very recently inaccessible to the experimentalist. It is now possible to investigate the detailed dynamical evolution of strongly excited atoms and to examine with some precision the associated spectrum of the radiated field. In such an investigation it is important to discriminate between a test of the basic principles of QED and a test of commonly used but subsidiary approximations made within QED.
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