Quantum optics, the union of quantum field theory and physical optics, is undergoing a time of revolutionary change. The subject has evolved from early studies on the coherence properties of radiation like, for example, quantum statistical theories of the laser in the sixties to modern areas of study involving, for example, the role of squeezed states of the radiation field and atomic coherence in quenching quantum noise in interferometry and optical amplifiers. On the one hand, counter intuitive concepts such as lasing without inversion and single atom (micro) masers and lasers are now laboratory realities. Many of these techniques hold promise for new devices whose sensitivity goes well beyond the standard quantum limits. On the other hand, quantum optics provides a powerful new probe for addressing fundamental issues of quantum mechanics such as complementarity, hidden variables, and other aspects central to the foundations of quantum physics and philosophy.
The intent of this book is to present these and many other exciting developments in the field of quantum optics to students and scientists, with an emphasis on fundamental concepts and their applications, so as to enable the students to perform independent research in this field. The book (which has developed from our lectures on the subject at various universities, research institutes, and summer schools) may be used as a textbook for beginning graduate students with some background in standard quantum mechanics and electromagnetic theory. Each chapter is supplemented by problems and general references.