Classical Electromagnetic Fields

  • Pierre Meystre
  • Murray SargentIII


In this book we present the basic ideas needed to understand how laser light interacts with various forms of matter. Among the important consequences is an understanding of the laser itself. The present chapter summarizes classical electromagnetic fields, which describe laser light remarkably well. The chapter also discusses the interaction of these fields with a medium consisting of classical simple harmonic oscillators. It is surprising how well this simple model describes linear absorption, a point discussed from a quantum mechanical point of view in Sect. 3.3. The rest of the book is concerned with nonlinear interactions of radiation with matter. Chapter 2 generalizes the classical oscillator to treat simple kinds of nonlinear mechanisms, and shows us a number of phenomena in a relatively simple context. Starting with Chap. 3, we treat the medium quantum mechanically. The combination of a classical description of light and a quantum mechanical description of matter is called the semiclassical approximation. This approximation is not always justified (Chaps. 13–19), but there are remarkably few cases in quantum optics where we need to quantize the field.


Wave Equation Coherent Light Host Medium Simple Harmonic Oscillator Present Chapter 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierre Meystre
    • 1
  • Murray SargentIII
    • 2
  1. 1.Optical Science CenterUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Microsoft CorporationRedmontUSA

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