Abstract

We investigated the use of hollow-cathode discharges for high-resolution and high-sensitivity spectroscopy, using atomic calcium. Spectra with sub-Doppler resolution of Cai transitions at 423 (resonant), 610, 612, 616, 645, 657 (intercombination), and 672 nm were obtained by optogalvanic saturation spectroscopy in lamps filled with argon (0.6 and 2.5 Torr) and krypton (0.6 Torr). A Doppler background that is due to velocity-changing collisions, which may severely limit the resolution, can be greatly reduced by the choice of buffer gas. Sub-Doppler linewidths comparable with those achieved in atomic beams have been obtained, making a properly chosen hollow-cathode lamp a convenient tool for high-resolution spectroscopic experiments, providing wavelength references for laser frequency tuning. The sensitivity of optogalvanic detection and the excitation of most electronic levels by the discharge make these lamps attractive also for investigating weak and excited level transitions with the use of a simple experimental setup.

© 2001 Optical Society of America

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