The reflection of short optical pulses from the boundary of a resonant medium is investigated theoretically by the coupled system of the Maxwell and optical Bloch equations. In order to describe the reflected wave, the slowly-varying-envelope approximation in space is not exploited. The coherent reflection is shown to be in connection with Dicke superradiance. It takes place if the relaxation time of the polarization is longer than the superradiation time of the atoms in an optically thin boundary layer of the medium. That is why much of the relevant information can be obtained already in the thin-medium limit, which is considered separately. The conditions of strong reflection from an extended medium are similar to the ones found for a thin sample. The transition into the incoherent and stationary regime is discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics