Abstract

We present a general theoretical description of laser cooling of three-level atoms in a Λ configuration in two standing waves. Detunings, intensity, and spatial phase difference of the two waves are arbitrary. We demonstrate that, for a zero spatial phase shift, sub-Doppler cooling requires equal detunings. The basic mechanism is then coherent population trapping. For different detunings sub-Doppler cooling occurs only when the spatial phases of the two standing waves are different. This effect can be traced back to a mechanism of the Sisyphus type. These schemes of sub-Doppler cooling require neither polarization gradients nor magnetic fields.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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