The use of subwavelength diameter tapered optical fibers (TOFs) in warm rubidium vapor has recently been identified as a promising system for realizing ultralow-power nonlinear optical effects. However, at the relatively high atomic densities needed for many of these experiments, rubidium atoms accumulating on the TOF surface can cause a significant loss of overall transmission through the fiber. Here we report direct measurements of the time scale associated with this transmission degradation for various rubidium density conditions. Transmission is affected almost immediately after the introduction of rubidium vapor into the system, and declines rapidly as the density is increased. More significantly, we show how a heating element designed to raise the TOF temperature can be used to reduce this transmission loss and dramatically extend the effective TOF transmission lifetime.
© 2013 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article