We present an analysis of the transmission of a weak optical pulse, with energy 1, through a dense absorbing medium with absorption frequency . We analyze the system by treating the optical pulse classically and the absorbing medium quantum mechanically. We find that the probabilistic back reaction of the quantum absorber on the classical pulse impresses statistical behavior on the pulse that does not arise from quantization of the optical field. All properties of the optical transmission and atomic absorption are self-consistent without contradiction. Issues relating to conservation of energy are resolved by considering the impact of superposition states on conservation laws in individual interactions. As a result, we conclude that transmission of a weak optical pulse with energy 1 through a dense atomic absorber does not require quantization of the field.
This work was supported by the Office of Naval Research. The authors would like to thank Drs. L. L. Tankersley, Robert Lehmberg, Brian Justus, and Guy Beadie for valuable discussions and critical reading of the manuscript.
Article outline: I. INTRODUCTION II. DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERACTION III. SEMICLASSICAL PROBABILISTIC ANALYSIS IV. DISCUSSION V. SUMMARY