We study theoretically and experimentally a new mechanism for the rotation of the polarization ellipse of a single laser beam propagating through an atomic vapor with a frequency tuned near an atomic resonance. The results of a theoretical treatment for the case of a J = 1/2 to J = 1/2 atomic transition show that a rotation of the polarization ellipse of the laser beam will occur as a result of ground-state optical pumping and that the angle of rotation is independent of the laser intensity over a broad range of laser intensities. The predictions of this theoretical model are tested experimentally through the use of potassium vapor and are found to agree with the experimental data.
© 1992 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: April 22, 1992
Published: September 15, 1992
William V. Davis, Alexander L. Gaeta, and Robert W. Boyd, "Polarization-ellipse rotation by induced gyrotropy in atomic vapors," Opt. Lett. 17, 1304-1306 (1992)