Abstract

Effective and unrestricted engineering of atom–photon interactions requires precise spatially resolved control of light beams. The significant potential of such manipulations lies in a set of disciplines ranging from solid-state to atomic physics. Here we use a Zeeman-like ac-Stark shift caused by a shaped laser beam to perform rotations of spins with spatial resolution in a large ensemble of cold rubidium atoms. We show that inhomogeneities of light intensity are the main source of dephasing and, thus, decoherence; yet, with proper beam shaping, this deleterious effect is strongly mitigated allowing rotations of 15 rad within one spin-precession lifetime. Finally, as a particular example of a complex manipulation enabled by our scheme, we demonstrate a range of collapse-and-revival behaviors of a free-induction decay signal by imprinting comb-like patterns on the atomic ensemble.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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