A theoretical study of the local field inside a mesoscopic quantum-well film subjected to an externally impressed optical wave is undertaken. In the wake of a discussion of the basic integral equation for the field–field response tensor, the so-called slave and self-field models are investigated, emphasizing the relation to the sheet-conductivity tensor, which, from an experimental point of view, is the basic quantity. The complexity of the local-field electrodynamics is put into perspective in a study of the microscopic paramagnetic response of a two-level quantum-well system. It is demonstrated that, for the two-level sheet, induced currents can flow only perpendicular to the quantum well. I stress that the complexity necessitates the use of few-level quantum wells for a proper comparison of theory and experiment.
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