We present a general theory of spontaneous emission at exceptional points (EPs)- exotic degeneracies in non-Hermitian systems. Our theory extends beyond spontaneous emission to any light-matter interaction described by the local density of states (e.g., absorption, thermal emission, and nonlinear frequency conversion). Whereas traditional spontaneous-emission theories imply infinite enhancement factors at EPs, we derive finite bounds on the enhancement, proving maximum enhancement of 4 in passive systems with second-order EPs and significantly larger enhancements (exceeding 400×) in gain-aided and higher-order EP systems. In contrast to non-degenerate resonances, which are typically associated with Lorentzian emission curves in systems with low losses, EPs are associated with non-Lorentzian lineshapes, leading to enhancements that scale nonlinearly with the resonance quality factor. Our theory can be applied to dispersive media, with proper normalization of the resonant modes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics