Date of Award

Summer 1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Applied Physics

Committee Director

Mark D. Havey

Committee Member

Gary E. Copeland

Committee Member

G. Hoy

Committee Member

A. Sieradzan

Committee Member

J. Wallace Van Orden


A new technique is used to observe the dynamics of electronic alignment in a dissociating collision complex. The technique requires the absorption of two optical photons during a single binary collision. Two exciting light fields are tuned into the wings of the 3s1s0-3p1 and 3p1p1-5s1s0 resonances of Mg where strong collisions with rare gas atoms induce transitions between corresponding molecular states. The alignment produced in the intermediate state by the first excitation is probed by the second laser as a function of relative linear laser polarization and laser detunings. This accesses a range of interatomic separations and produces a spectrum which represents a frequency domain analog of the time evolution of the alignment in the intermediate state. Spectra for Mg-Ne and Mg-Ar show features which depend strongly on the rare gas and the details of the interatomic potentials. Observed polarizations range from 10% to 100%.