Abstract:
Modern techniques allow experiments on a single atom or system, with new phenomena and new challenges for the theoretician. We discuss what quantum mechanics has to say about a single system. The quantum jump approach as well as the role of quantum trajectories are outlined and a rather sophisticated example is given.

Abstract:
In order to check finite propagation speed Fermi, in 1932, had considered two atoms A and B separated by some distance R. At time t=0, A is in an excited state, B in its ground state, and no photons are present. Fermi's idea was to calculate the excitation probability of B. In a model-independent way and with minimal assumptions - Hilbert space and positive energy only - it is proved, not just for atoms but for any systems A and B, that the excitation probability of B is nonzero immediately after t=0. Possible ways out to avoid a contradiction to finite propagation speed are discussed. The notions of strong and weak Einstein causality are introduced.

Abstract:
Positivity of the Hamiltonian alone is used to show that particles, if initially localized in a finite region, immediately develop infinite tails.

Abstract:
In nonrelativistic quantum mechanics the wave-function of a free particle which initially is in a finite volume immediately spreads to infinity. In a nonrelativistic theory this is of no concern, but we show that the same instantaneous spreading can occur in relativistic quantum theory and that transition probabilities in widely separated systems may instantaneously become nonzero. We discuss how this affects Einstein causality.

Abstract:
The notion of Einstein causality, i.e. the limiting role of the velocity of light in the transmission of signals, is discussed. It is pointed out that Nimtz and coworkers use the notion of signal velocity in a different sense from Einstein and that their experimental results are in full agreement with Einstein causality in its ordinary sense. We also show that under quite general assumptions instantaneous spreading of particle localization occurs in quantum theory, relativistic or not, with fields or without. We discuss if this affects Einstein causality.

Abstract:
An explicit expression is given for the correlation function of blinking systems, i.e. systems exhibiting light and dark periods in their fluorescence. We show through the example of terrylene in a crystalline host that it is possible to determine by means of this explicit expression photo-physical parameters, like Einstein coefficients and the mean light and dark periods by a simple fit. In addition we obtain further parameters like the frequency of the various intensity periods and the probability density of photons scattered off the host crystal. It turns out that this approach is simpler and allows greater accuracy than previous procedures.

Abstract:
The projection postulate has been used to predict a slow-down of the time evolution of the state of a system under rapidly repeated measurements, and ultimately a freezing of the state. To test this so-called quantum Zeno effect an experiment was performed by Itano et al. (Phys. Rev. A 41, 2295 (1990)) in which an atomic-level measurement was realized by means of a short laser pulse. The relevance of the results has given rise to controversies in the literature. In particular the projection postulate and its applicability in this experiment have been cast into doubt. In this paper we show analytically that for a wide range of parameters such a short laser pulse acts as an effective level measurement to which the usual projection postulate applies with high accuracy. The corrections to the ideal reductions and their accumulation over n pulses are calculated. Our conclusion is that the projection postulate is an excellent pragmatic tool for a quick and simple understanding of the slow-down of time evolution in experiments of this type. However, corrections have to be included, and an actual freezing does not seem possible because of the finite duration of measurements.

Abstract:
The quantum Zeno effect (QZE) predicts a slow-down of the time development of a system under rapidly repeated ideal measurements, and experimentally this was tested for an ensemble of atoms using short laser pulses for non-selective state measurements. Here we consider such pulses for selective measurements on a single system. Each probe pulse will cause a burst of fluorescence or no fluorescence. If the probe pulses were strictly ideal measurements, the QZE would predict periods of fluorescence bursts alternating with periods of no fluorescence (light and dark periods) which would become longer and longer with increasing frequency of the measurements. The non-ideal character of the measurements is taken into account by incorporating the laser pulses in the interaction, and this is used to determine the corrections to the ideal case. In the limit, when the time between the laser pulses goes to zero, no freezing occurs but instead we show convergence to the familiar macroscopic light and dark periods of the continuously driven Dehmelt system. An experiment of this type should be feasible for a single atom or ion in a trap

Abstract:
It has been proposed by Cook (Phys. Scr. T 21, 49 (1988)) to use a short probe laser pulse for state measurements of two-level systems. In previous work we have investigated to what extent this proposal fulfills the projection postulate if ideal photon detectors are considered. For detectors with overall efficiency less than 1 complications arise for single systems, and for this case we present a simple criterion for a laser pulse to act as a state measurement and to cause an almost complete state reduction.

Abstract:
We study the diffraction of atoms and weakly-bound three-atomic molecules from a transmission grating at non-normal incidence. Due to the thickness of the grating bars the slits are partially shadowed. Therefore, the projected slit width decreases more strongly with the angle of incidence than the projected period, increasing, in principle, the experimental resolution. The shadowing, however, requires a revision of the theory of atom diffraction. We derive an expression in the style of the Kirchhoff integral of optics and show that the diffraction pattern exhibits a characteristic asymmetry which must be accounted for when comparing with experimental data. We then analyze the diffraction of weakly bound trimers and show that their finite size manifests itself in a further reduction of the slit width by (3/4) where is the average bond length. The improved resolution at non-normal incidence may in particular allow to discern, by means of their bond lengths, between the small ground state of the helium trimer (=1 nm, Barletta and Kievsky, Phys. Rev. A 64, 042514 (2001)) and its predicted Efimov-type excited state (=8 nm, ibid.), and in this way to experimentally prove the existence of this long-sought Efimov state.