Abstract

We present a new technique for measuring atomic lifetimes with a mode-locked laser. A single laser pulse excites the atoms and a subsequent frequency-doubled pulse ionizes the excited-state atoms. The ions are collected and counted. The measurement is repeated using excitation and detection pulses with different time separations, which determines the excited-state decay rate. We demonstrated this technique for the 6P3/2 state of cesium. The measured lifetime was 30.5 ns and had a statistical uncertainty of 0.1 ns. Systematic effects limited the overall experimental uncertainty to 0.6 ns in this initial experiment.

© 2003 Optical Society of America

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