We study the influence of quantum interference on the spontaneous emission from an excited two-level atom when either the atomic upper or lower level is coupled by a coherent field to a third, usually higher-lying, state. In the case of the upper level coupling, destructive quantum interference between two competing decay amplitudes produces a dark line in the emission spectrum, a phenomenon that should not be confused with the well known population trapping, and a narrowing of one of the two side lobes that make up the spectral profile. Quantum interference is absent, instead, in the case of the lower level coupling, and the spectrum modified by the external driving field is just the incoherent superposition of two Lorentzian lines. We suggest a physical interpretation of these results. In addition, we compare the analytic predictions of the simplest nontrivial versions of these models with more realistic but nonanalytic descriptions and show, numerically, that the interference effects persist in the upper level case even when additional complications are taken into account.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics