Skip to Main Content
In this paper we formulate the general problem of determining the photoelectron "counting" distribution resulting from an electromagnetic field impinging on a quantum detector. Although the detector model used was derived quantum mechanically, our treatment is wholly classical and includes all results known to date. This combination is commonly referred to as the semiclassical approach. The emphasis, however, lies in directing the problem towards optical communication. The electromagnetic field is assumed to be the sum of a deterministic signal and a zero-mean narrow-band Gaussian random process, and is expanded in a Karhunen-Loève series of orthogonal functions. Several examples are given. It is shown that all the results obtainable can be written explicitly in terms of the noise covariance function. Particular attention is given to the case of a signal plus white Gaussian noise, both of which are band-limited to Hz. Since the result is a fundamental one, to add some physical insight, we show four methods by which it can be obtained. Various limiting forms of this distribution are derived, including the necessary conditions for those commonly accepted. The likelihood functional is established and is shown to be the product of Laguerre polynomials. For the problem of continuous estimation, the Fisher information kernel is derived and an important limiting form is obtained. The maximum a posteriori (MAP) and maximum-likelihood (ML) estimation equations are also derived. In the latter case the results are also functions of Laguerre polynomials.