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Reflection spectroscopy of spin-polarized atoms near a dielectric surface

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Abstract

We compare the interactions of spin-polarized Na with glass surfaces that are either bare or silicone coated. For this purpose, we reflect a laser beam that is resonant with the Na atoms from the interface, using an angle of incidence close to the critical angle of total internal reflection. Polarization-selective detection of the reflected light provides information about the ground-state orientation of the atoms, which is created by optical pumping with a second laser beam. Our theoretical description treats the atomic vapor as a homogeneous anisotropic medium characterized by a macroscopic magnetization. Comparative experimental studies performed with silicone-coated and bare glass surfaces provide evidence that wall relaxation can be observed by reflection spectroscopy.

© 1996 Optical Society of America

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