## Abstract

We investigate the region of validity of the semiclassical approach to simulating laser cooling. We conclude that for the commonly used ${\pi}^{x}{\pi}^{y}$ polarization-gradient configuration, the semiclassical approach is valid only for transitions with recoil parameters ${\epsilon}_{r}$ on the order of ${10}^{-4}$ or less. For the standard laser-cooling transitions only the transitions in Rb and Cs satisfy this condition. For the Doppler and ${\sigma}^{+}{\sigma}^{-}$ polarization-gradient configuration the semiclassical approach is valid for most of the commonly used transitions; however, the expected gain in execution speed compared with quantum Monte Carlo calculations has been realized only in part. A drastic reduction in calculation time is to be expected by implementing an analytical approach to the long-term contribution of the diffusion coefficient.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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