If in general the transparency of an initially absorbing medium for a probe field is increased by the presence of a control field on an adjacent transition, two very different processes can be invoked to explain it. One of them is a quantum Fano interference between two paths in the three-level system, which occurs even at low control intensity and gives rise to electromagnetically-induced transparency (EIT), the other one is the appearance of two dressed states in the excited level at higher control intensity, corresponding to the Autler-Townes splitting (ATS). This distinction is particularly critical for instance for the implementation of slow light or optical quantum memories. In a recent paper, P. M. Anisimov, J. P. Dowling and B. C. Sanders proposed a quantitative test to objectively discerning ATS from EIT [1]. We experimentally investigated this test with cold atoms [2] and demonstrated that it is very sensitive to the specific properties of the medium.

© 2013 IEEE

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