Abstract

It is proposed that the thermal velocity of a single atom could be measured in real time using a laser time-of-flight velocimeter (LTV) operating on the principle of laser resonance fluorescence. Theoretical data are presented for several atomic species that have resonances within the range of available dye-laser systems. It is shown that measurements in the subsonic region are certainly feasible. The atoms could be either in vacuum or in a buffer gas, e.g., at atmospheric pressure. Measurements in the transonic and supersonic region also appear possible. One potential application is the measurement of flow speeds in wind tunnels, perhaps as high as Mach 45.

© 1978 Optical Society of America

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