Abstract

We develop a new theoretical treatment that can explain, for the first time to our knowledge, unexpectedly strong synchronized-quantum-beat-echo (SQBE) signals that we previously observed in the ground state of sodium atoms. The SQBE is obtained by successive application of two light-pulse trains tuned to an optical transition under the condition that the pulse repetition frequency or that of one of its harmonics is equal to the separation of a ground-state sublevel pair. The theory is developed for weak optical pumping for which the duration of the light-pulse trains is much longer than the spontaneous decay time of the excited state. We show that the echo is formed effectively as a result of nonuniform depopulation from the sublevel pair to the other levels because of frequency-selective optical pumping during the rapid spontaneous decay of the excited state. Details of the experiment with sodium atoms are described also.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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