Optical Precursors in Rubidium Vapor and Their Relation to Superradiance



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Optical precursor is the sharp optical pulse front that does not show delay in absorptive media. In this thesis, optical precursor behavior in rubidium (Rb) vapor was investigated in the picoseconds regime. An amplified femtosecond laser was shaped to a 7-ps square pulse with sharp rising and trailing edges. This pulse was then sent into a hot rubidium vapor, and the center frequency of the laser pulse was absorbed. The output pulses were measured by a fast streak camera with 2-picosecond resolution. By varying the temperature of the Rb vapor, the measured pulse shapes showed the progression of formation of optical precursors. The measured pulses shapes showed good agreement with theory.

On the other hand, a connection between optical precursors and femtosecond laser pumped 3-photon superradiance was investigated in this thesis. Maxwell-Bloch equations were numerically solved in two steps with commercial software Mathematica 8. A good agreement was found between simulation and experiment. It was confirmed that, at low excitation regime, superradiance generated from hot rubidium vapor, which were pumped by a femtosecond laser, can be understood as the formation of optical precursors.