We have studied superfluorescence (SF) in Ca vapor evolving on the
by exciting the
with a pulsed dye laser. SF is generated following population transfer by spin-changing collisions with an inert gas Ar from the
levels. We show for the first time to our knowledge that the time delay for SF evolution follows the
dependence expected for the case of uniform excitation of the vapor column by collisional transfer. Here, N is the number of participating atoms that was measured directly from the photon yield. The measured photon yield for the signal as a function of Ar pressure was found to be consistent with rate equations that simulate the buildup of populations in the
levels based on known collisional rates. This suggests that collisional rates can be directly inferred on the basis of SF photon yields and the atomic level populations. The pulse shapes for SF show temporal oscillations that depend on two distinct factors. The first is the presence of a number of independently evolving regions in the gain medium, and the second is the presence of spatial modes. Temporal ringing is a well-known effect related to the exchange of energy between the atoms and the radiation field during pulse propagation. However, the temporal ringing observed in this experiment is far more pronounced than in previous SF experiments due to a particular choice of evolution parameters. This should make it feasible to compare our results with detailed numerical simulations that have been carried out previously.
© 2005 Optical Society of America