Abstract

An established photoionization branching-ratio measurement method, in which an excited level of an atom is populated by a pulsed laser from the ground level and repopulation of the ground level is measured by a second laser or lasers, is extended to the case with a finite lower-level lifetime. Two pulsed dye lasers populate the upper and the lower levels of the transition of interest. A third pulsed dye laser probes the time evolution of the lower level by a photoionization process. This measurement, coupled with the upper- and the lower-level lifetimes, permits the determination of the branching ratio and transition probability. Cerium branching ratios obtained are compared with those that we determined from the emission spectrum of cerium. The method is tested for the difficult case in which the lifetimes of the transition levels are nearly equivalent. The effects of magnetic sublevels are investigated in ytterbium.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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