Abstract

Traditional schemes for coherent population transfer or generation of coherent superposition states in multilevel atoms or molecules usually utilize two or more laser beams with radiation bandwidth smaller than the frequency interval between the working levels. We show the possibility of creation of the coherent superposition of three metastable states of a four-level atom with tripodlike level structure using a single short frequency-chirped laser pulse. The bandwidth of the pulse envelope (without chirp) must be comparable to or exceed the frequency distance between the two metastable levels. No appreciable excitation of the atom takes place during the creation of the coherent superposition state, thus diminishing significantly the effect of decoherence due to the spontaneous decay of the excited state. The proposed method of creation of superposition states is robust against variations in the laser pulse parameters. Since this method does not require maintaining steady resonance with the atomic transitions (owing to the frequency chirp of the laser pulse), it is effective both in homogeneously and inhomogeneously broadened media.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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