Abstract

It is pointed out that it is impossible to distinguish between photons and classical wave packets by measurement of photoelectric counting statistics for any state of a light beam for which a classical description exists. Therefore, an experiment with a thermal light source recently proposed by Karp as a test for the existence of photons can yield no information on this question, even if it should be able to distinguish between two different statistical models of a light beam. The quantum nature of the optical field can, however, be inferred from other photoelectric measurements, some of which are briefly discussed.

© 1977 Optical Society of America

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