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Physical Review A



We report a detailed investigation of excited-state alignment-to-orientation conversion in the presence of an external magnetic field. This counterintuitive phenomenon occurs under intermediate-coupling conditions. A weak, linearly polarized, cw laser beam was used to excite and align the Na 3P3/2 state in an atomic beam along the z direction. The degree of circular polarization of the resulting fluorescence was detected along the z direction as a function of magnetic-field strength. The spectrally integrated transitions originating from individual F levels of the 3S1/2 state yield a maximum circular-polarization fraction of ∼40%; integrating the circular polarization over all the allowed 3S1/2-3P3/2 transitions gives rise to an ∼8% effect. The results are predicted by the Breit formula, which is in excellent agreement with our observations.


This article was archived with permission from APS Physics, all rights reserved. Document also available from Physical Review A.