Experimental detection of photons emitted during inhibited spontaneous emission

David Branning, Alan L. Migdall, Paul G. Kwiat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We present an experimental realization of a "sudden mirror replacement" thought experiment, in which a mirror that is inhibiting spontaneous emission is quickly replaced by a photodetector. The question is, can photons be counted immediately, or only after a retardation time that allows the emitter to couple to the changed modes of the cavity, and for light to propagate to the detector? Our results, obtained with a parametric downconverter, are consistent with the cavity QED prediction that photons can be counted immediately, and are in conflict with the retardation time prediction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Nature of Light
Subtitle of host publicationWhat Are Photons
StatePublished - 2007
EventThe Nature of Light: What Are Photons - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 26 2007Aug 27 2007

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherThe Nature of Light: What Are Photons
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Cavity QED
  • Inhibited spontaneous emission
  • Parametric downconversion
  • Quantum interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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