In semiclassical theory, light is a classical electromagnetic wave and the fundamental source of photodetection noise is the shot effect arising from the discreteness of the electron charge. In quantum theory, light is a quantum-mechanical entity and the fundamental source of photodetection noise comes from measuring the photon-flux operator. The Glauber coherent states are Gaussian quantum states which represent classical electromagnetic radiation. Quantum
photodetection of these states yields statistics that are indistinguishable from the corresponding Poisson point-process results of semiclassical photodetection. Optical parametric interactions, however, can be used to produce other Gaussian quantum
states, states whose photodetection behavior cannot be characterized
semiclassically. A unified analytical framework is presented for Gaussian-state photodetection that includes the full panoply of nonclassical effects that have been produced via parametric interactions.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.