Magnetically induced birefringence (the Cotton–Mouton effect) of argon, neon, and helium atoms was measured with a high-sensitivity ellipsometer with a 790-nm GaAlAs diode laser. The detection limit of the change in ellipticity was attained to a shot-noise-limited value of 10<sup>−10</sup> rad. We determined the absolute values of the ellipticity changes caused by noble atoms using the light extinction ratio of the ellipsometer as an absolute standard, with this ratio measured by a method based on Malus’s law. The measured values of the Cotton–Mouton constant were (7.1±2.5)×10<sup>−10</sup> T<sup>−2</sup> m<sup>−1</sup> for He atoms, (1.3±0.5)×10<sup>−9</sup> T<sup>−2</sup> m<sup>−1</sup> for Ne atoms, and (1.1±0.2)×10<sup>−8</sup> T<sup>−2</sup> m<sup>−1</sup> for Ar atoms at a gas pressure of 1.52×10<sup>5</sup> Pa and a gas temperature of 285–293 K.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
Kazuyuki Muroo, Naoki Ninomiya, Masahiro Yoshino, and Yoshitaka Takubo, "Measurement of the Cotton–Mouton constants of noble atoms," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 20, 2249-2254 (2003)