What is quantum interference in atoms?
Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.,
Technische Physik - Pfaffenwaldring 38-49, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany
2 Department of Physics, Texas A & M University, College Station - TX 77843-4242, USA
Accepted: 8 May 1996
A new approach treats spin-orbit and electric-dipole interactions simultaneously and proves that the notion of quantum "interference" is a misinterpretation based on inappropriate assumptions. Instead, fine-structure (fs-) quantum beats result from the conservation of the spin in spontaneous E1 transitions between in-phase precession states with different nutation frequencies as imposed by the spin-orbit interaction. The theory also adds new aspects regarding the origin of sensitized fluorescence by showing that mixed states and not fs-eigenstates are the most probable ones. Moreover, it predicts orientationally dependent lifetimes in spin-orbit interacting sublevels, dynamically reduced transition probabilities, and Fano-type lineshapes.
PACS: 03.65.w – Quantum mechanics / 32.10.f – Properties of atoms and atomic ions
© EDP Sciences, 1996