Abstract

We report a measurement of the 5P32 excited-state lifetime using two-pulse photon echoes in Rb vapor. The measurement is precise to 1% and agrees with the best measurement of atomic lifetime in Rb. The results suggest that a measurement precise to 0.25% is possible through additional data acquisition and study of systematic effects. The experiment relies on short optical pulses generated from a cw laser using acousto-optic modulators. The excitation pulses are on resonance with the F=3F=4 transition in Rb85 or the F=2F=3 transition in Rb87. The resulting photon echo signal is detected using a heterodyne detection technique. The excited-state lifetime is determined by measuring the exponential decay of the echo intensity as a function of the time between the excitation pulses. We also present a study of the echo intensity as a function of excitation pulse area and compare the results to simulations based on optical Bloch equations. The simulations include the effects of spontaneous emission as well as spatial and temporal variations of the intensities of excitation pulses.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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