Model-independent measurements of the sodium magneto-optical trap's excited-state population
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We present model-independent measurements of the excited-state population of atoms in a sodium (Na) magneto-optical trap (MOT) using a hybrid ion-neutral trap composed of a MOT and a linear Paul trap (LPT). We photoionize excited Na atoms trapped in the MOT and use two independent methods to measure the resulting ions: directly by trapping them in our LPT, and indirectly by monitoring changes in MOT fluorescence. By measuring the ionization rate via these two indepen- dent methods, we have enough information to directly determine the population of MOT atoms in the excited-state. The resulting measurement reveals that there is a range of trapping-laser in- tensities where the excited-state population of atoms in our MOT follows the standard two-level model intensity-dependence. However, an experimentally determined effective saturation intensity must be used instead of the theoretically predicted value from the two-level model. We measured the effective saturation intensity to be Ise = 22.9 ± 5.1 mW/cm2 for the type-I Na MOT and Ise = 49 ± 11 mW/cm2 for the type-II Na MOT, approximately 1.7 and 3.6 times the theoretical estimate, respectively. Lastly, at large trapping-laser intensities, our experiment reveals a clear departure from the two-level model at a critical intensity that we believe is due to a state-mixing effect, whose critical intensity can be determined by a simple power broadening model.
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