Abstract

The steady-state absorption of a beam of sodium atoms irradiated by a train of pulses from a mode-locked dye laser has been measured. The sodium atoms were prepared as two-level systems by optical pumping with a two-mode laser. Absorption spectra on the 589.0-nm D2 line were recorded over 20 GHz with a frequency-stabilized, tunable, mode-locked dye laser having a bandwidth of 3.7 GHz and a mode spacing of 82 MHz. The laser-pulse profile was determined from the spectral profile assuming transform-limited pulses and was incorporated in theoretical calculations of excitation spectra obtained by numerical integration of the optical Bloch equations. By comparison of measured absorption spectra and theoretical excitation spectra the validity of the weak-field solution as well as the predicted saturation behavior were fully verified by the experimental results. For the highest level of irradiation applied, the laser pulses were identified as π pulses.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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