## Abstract

Ytterbium enriched in ${}^{176}\mathrm{Yb}$ is used for the production of the ${}^{177}\mathrm{Lu}$ radioisotope, which has applications in cancer treatment. We have theoretically studied the two-step resonant, three-step photoionization of the ${}^{176}\mathrm{Yb}$ isotope using the density-matrix approach. To simulate experimentally realistic conditions, the Doppler averaging, magnetic sublevel degeneracy, time–varying Rabi frequencies, ionization rate, angular divergence, and laser bandwidth have all been incorporated into the theoretical model. Calculations have been carried out to identify the optimized Rabi frequencies for evaluating the separation factor. The effect of the laser line shape on the excitation profile has also been thoroughly studied. We could obtain large separation factors of $\sim 5000$ for the ${}^{176}\mathrm{Yb}$ isotope, and the excitation conditions identified in this work may be utilized in the separation of the desired isotope.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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