Quantum theory for the nanoscale propagation of light through stacked thin film layers

Kayn A. Forbes, Mathew D. Williams, David L. Andrews

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

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Stacked multi-layer films have a range of well-known applications as optical elements. The various types of theory commonly used to describe optical propagation through such structures rarely take account of the quantum nature of light, though phenomena such as Anderson localization can be proven to occur under suitable conditions. In recent and ongoing work based on quantum electrodynamics, it has been shown possible to rigorously reformulate, in photonic terms, the fundamental mechanisms that are involved in reflection and optical transmission through stacked nanolayers. Accounting for sum-over-pathway features in the quantum mechanical description, this theory treats the sequential interactions of photons with material boundaries in terms of individual scattering events. The study entertains an arbitrary number of reflections in systems comprising two or three internally reflective surfaces. Analytical results are secured, without recourse to FTDT (finite-difference time-domain) software or any other finite-element approximations. Quantum interference effects can be readily identified. The new results, which cast the optical characteristics of such structures in terms of simple, constituent-determined properties, are illustrated by model calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
PublisherSPIE Press
ISBN (Print)9781510601291
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016
EventNanophotonics VI - Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 3 Apr 20167 Apr 2016


ConferenceNanophotonics VI


  • Distributed Bragg reflectors
  • Photonic crystals
  • Photonics
  • Quantum electrodynamics
  • quantum optics
  • Surface reflection
  • Thin films

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