Abstract

We study the force exerted on two-level atoms by short, counterpropagating laser pulses. When the counterpropagating pulses overlap each other partially, multiphoton adiabatic processes are possible in several configurations, which amplify the force exerted on the atoms. We investigate the practical usefulness of such multiphoton adiabatic transitions for the manipulation of the atoms’ mechanical state. In particular, we compare the efficiency of a pair of constant frequency, oppositely detuned laser pulses and that of a pair of frequency-chirped pulses. We also consider the case of prolonged exposure to a sequence of laser pulses for a duration that is comparable to or much larger than the spontaneous lifetime of the atoms. We use numerical methods to calculate the reduction of the force and the heating of the atomic ensemble when spontaneous emission cannot be neglected during the interaction. In addition, we derive simple approximate formulas for the force and the heating, and compare them to the numerical results.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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