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Faraday Rotation of Pulsed and Continuous-wave Light in Atomic Vapour

SIDDONS, PAUL (2011) Faraday Rotation of Pulsed and Continuous-wave Light in Atomic Vapour. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The absorptive and dispersive properties of a Doppler-broadened vapour of rubidium atoms is investigated. A detailed model of the atom-light interaction is developed and found to be in excellent agreement with experiment in the regime where the interacting light field is sufficiently weak such that it does not significantly alter the medium through which it propagates. The importance of using a weak beam to probe atomic systems is discussed, and a method of characterising how weak such a beam has to be is provided. The theoretical model is applied to both situations of illumination by continuous-wave and pulsed light, the latter situation providing a demonstration of the slow light effect. This phenomenon is a manifestation of the dispersive properties of the medium and is shown to exist over a particularly large frequency range, compared to the absorption spectrum, in thermal vapours. Off-resonant interactions are studied, in which incident laser-light is detuned from resonance to such a degree that Doppler-broadening can be neglected. We quantify the extent to which the light needs to be detuned to be in this regime, and provide approximations to the line-shape function developed in earlier parts of the thesis. The approximate line-shapes are much easier to manipulate and allow a more intuitive understanding of the atom-light interaction. In the second part of the thesis we study the Faraday effect and related phenomena which are an expression of the birefringent properties of the atom-light system. Beginning with a theoretical and experimental investigation of the Faraday rotation of a weak continuous-wave beam, we move on to the consideration of pulsed light. Optically-induced birefringence via the application of an intense continuous-wave pumping field is demonstrated experimentally, and the theoretical plausibility of controlling the polarisation state of a weak pulsed field mediated via intense pulsed light is shown.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:atomic vapour physics Faraday Maxwell-Bloch rubidium
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Physics, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Nov 2011 10:06

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