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Retrodiction with two-level atoms: atomic previvals

Barnett, S.M. and Pegg, D. and Jeffers, J. (2002) Retrodiction with two-level atoms: atomic previvals. Journal of Modern Optics, 49 (7). pp. 1175-1184. ISSN 0950-0340

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Abstract

In the Jaynes-Cummings model a two-level atom interacts with a single-mode electromagnetic field. Quantum mechanics predicts collapses and revivals in the probability that a measurement will show the atom to be excited at various times after the initial preparation of the atom and field. In retrodictive quantum mechanics we seek the probability that the atom was prepared in a particular state given the initial state of the field and the outcome of a later measurement on the atom. Although this is not simply the time reverse of the usual predictive problem, we demonstrate in this paper that retrodictive collapses and revivals also exist. We highlight the differences between predictive and retrodictive evolutions and describe an interesting situation where the prepared state is essentially unretrodictable.