Abstract

A third-order double-slit interference experiment with a pseudothermal light source in the high-intensity limit has been performed by actually recording the intensities in three optical paths. It is shown that not only can the visibility be dramatically enhanced compared to the second-order case as previously theoretically predicted and shown experimentally, but also that the higher visibility is a consequence of the contribution of third-order correlation interaction terms, which is equal to the sum of all contributions from second-order correlation. It is interesting that, when the two reference detectors are scanned in opposite directions, negative values for the third-order correlation term of the intensity fluctuations may appear. The phenomenon can be completely explained by the theory of classical statistical optics and is the first concrete demonstration of the influence of the third-order correlation terms.

© 2013 Optical Society of America

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