We present a new technique for measuring atomic lifetimes with a mode-locked laser. A single laser pulse excites the atoms and a subsequent frequency-doubled pulse ionizes the excited-state atoms. The ions are collected and counted. The measurement is repeated using excitation and detection pulses with different time separations, which determines the excited-state decay rate. We demonstrated this technique for the 6P<sub>3/2</sub> state of cesium. The measured lifetime was 30.5 ns and had a statistical uncertainty of 0.1 ns. Systematic effects limited the overall experimental uncertainty to ~0.6>ns in this initial experiment.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
(020.4900) Atomic and molecular physics : Oscillator strengths
B. M. Patterson, C. D. Lindstrom, T. Takekoshi, J. R. Lowell, C. Villarreal, and R. J. Knize, "Measurement of atomic lifetimes with a mode-locked laser," Opt. Lett. 28, 1814-1816 (2003)