By considering a radiating gas as a single quantum-mechanical system, energy levels corresponding to certain correlations between individual molecules are described. Spontaneous emission of radiation in a transition between two such levels leads to the emission of coherent radiation. The discussion is limited first to a gas of dimension small compared with a wavelength. Spontaneous radiation rates and natural line breadths are calculated. For a gas of large extent the effect of photon recoil momentum on coherence is calculated. The effect of a radiation pulse in exciting "super-radiant" states is discussed. The angular correlation between successive photons spontaneously emitted by a gas initially in thermal equilibrium is calculated.
- Received 25 August 1953
- Published in the issue dated January 1954
© 1954 The American Physical Society