We present a summary of the results of a simple two-level theory of Doppler cooling in optical molasses and contrast it with the recent theories of multilevel, polarization-gradient cooling. The effects of single-photon recoil and of trapping in microscopic optical potential wells are also considered. Experiments are described in which the temperature of sodium atoms released from optical molasses is measured and found to be well below the Doppler-cooling limit. Measurements of the temperature dependence on many experimental parameters are found to be in good qualitative agreement with the new theories of polarization-gradient cooling.
© 1989 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: April 4, 1989
Manuscript Accepted: July 27, 1989
Published: November 1, 1989
P. D. Lett, W. D. Phillips, S. L. Rolston, C. E. Tanner, R. N. Watts, and C. I. Westbrook, "Optical molasses," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 6, 2084-2107 (1989)