Abstract

As laser light propagates through a resonant vapor, laser phase noise (PM) is converted to laser intensity noise (AM) because of the sensitivity of atomic coherence to laser phase fluctuations. In experiments reported here it is shown that this PM-to-AM conversion process is highly efficient and can cause the relative intensity noise of transmitted diode laser light to be 1 to 2 orders of magnitude larger than the laser’s intrinsic relative intensity noise. By use of a semiclassical description of the phenomenon, including the effect of optical pumping, reasonably good agreement between theory and experiment is obtained. The PM-to-AM conversion process discussed here has important consequences for atomic clock development, in which diode-laser optical pumping in thick alkali vapors holds the promise for orders-of-magnitude improvement in atomic clock performance.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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