Atomic vapors are convenient and powerful physical systems for many fundamental studies and practical applications. Characterizing the optical response of an atomic vapor cell is not only crucial to the understanding of the atom-photon interaction, but may also ease the way towards practical applications. It is well known that slow and fast light can be achieved near sharp resonance features. The use of atomic transitions has been used to construct slow-light interferometers with enhanced spectral responses and slow-light prisms that disperse spectrally narrow light. High-performance spectroscopy or other applications of this physical system all rely on precise characterization of the dispersion of the medium. Papoyan and co-authors present a straightforward procedure to measure the dispersion as well as the entire complex-valued optical response of a densely buffered atomic vapor. The authors use the Fabry-Perot formula to obtain the group index profile as a function of frequency. They then use a theoretical model involving a Fabry-Perot resonator, Maxwell’s equations, and density matrix equations to fit the optical response of the atomic vapor. While the theoretical results can explain the main experimental observations well, some of the claims, such as the waveguide channeling mechanism, may need further experimental and theoretical proof.
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