Abstract

We describe a new technique for accurate measurement of absolute photoionization cross sections. By measuring the loss rate of atoms from a laser trap in the presence of ionizing light, we directly measure the photoionization rate. The only quantities requiring absolute calibration are the ionizing laser intensity and the fractional population in the relevant state. Our technique is capable of detecting extremely small ionization rates, which means that low-power cw sources can be used. We have applied this method to photoionization from the 5P3/2 state of rubidium at wavelengths of 413 and 407 nm. The cross sections are 1.36(12) × 10−17 and 1.25(11) × 10−17 cm2, respectively.

© 1992 Optical Society of America

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