Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Charles I. Sukenik

Committee Member

Mark D. Havey

Committee Member

J. Wallace Van Orden

Committee Member

Stephen Bueltmann

Committee Member

John A. Adam


The interaction of light with atoms and molecules is of fundamental interest in many branches of science. In atomic physics, this interaction can be used to cool and spatially confine (trap) atoms. These traps can be used as the starting point for other experiments, but the dynamics of the cooling and trapping processes is itself of interest. In order to better understand the physics of trapping atoms in an optical dipole force trap, we have conducted a series of spectroscopic measurements of ultracold rubidium atoms in such a trap. The trap was created at the focus of a Nd:YAG laser beam with wavelength 1064nm and nearly Gaussian spatial mode. For rubidium, the trap light is red-detuned and the atoms are confined to the highest intensity in the beam. In order to probe the atoms confined in the trap, we have performed spectroscopy on the 5S1/2 → 5P3/2 transition. Because the polarizability of the ground and excited states is not the same at the trap wavelength, the spectra exhibit both a shift and inhomogeneous broadening. We have investigated the spectra for both linear and circular polarized traps. We also studied the application of a second laser to couple the excited state (5P3/2) to another higher excited state (5D5/2) to reduce the inhomogeneous broadening of the 5S1/2 → 5P 3/2 transition. Finally, two-photon spectroscopy was performed on atoms in the dipole force trap and compared to spectra taken in a magneto optical trap (MOT). Autler-Townes splitting was clearly observed in the MOT and appears to have been observed in the dipole force trap also.


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