Abstract

We present a theoretical and experimental study of the time evolution of the saturation-spectroscopy line shape when the saturating beam is suddenly switched on. We consider two metastable levels coupled by two Doppler-broadened transitions with a common excited level. In this special case, the fast transients from the upper level are rapidly damped, and the slow transients from populations and from Raman coherence in the metastable levels are easy to observe and are used for studying the collisional relaxation. For the sake of clarity, the theoretical analysis is developed according to a perturbation calculation. Nevertheless, saturation of the metastable levels must be taken into account in a more realistic theory (velocity-selective optical pumping): We give only a few results that are in excellent agreement with the experiments performed on neon metastable levels 3P0 and 3P2.

© 1986 Optical Society of America

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