Sodium laser guide star (LGS) is the key for the success of modern adaptive optics (AO) supported large ground based telescopes, however, for many field applications, Sodium LGS’s brightness is still a limited factor. Large amounts of theoretical efforts have been paid to optimize Sodium LGS exciting parameters, that is, to fully discover potential of harsh environment surrounding mesospheric extreme thin sodium atoms under resonant excitation, whether quantum or Monte Carlo based. But till to now, only limited proposals are demonstrated with on-sky test due to the high cost and engineering complexities. To bridge the gap between theoretical modeling and on-sky test, we built a magnetic field controllable sodium cell based lab-bench, which includes a small scale sum-frequency single mode 589nm laser, with added amplitude, polarization, and phase modulators. We could perform quantitative resonant fluorescence study under single, multi-frequency, side-band optical re-pumping exciting with different polarization, also we could perform optical field modulation to study Larmor precession which is considered as one of devils of Sodium LGS, and we have the ability to generate beams contain orbital angular moment. Our preliminary sodium cell based optical re-pumping experiments have shown excellent consistence with Bloch equation predicted results, other experimental results will also be presented in the report, and these results will give a direct support that sodium cell based lab-bench study could help a Sodium LGS scientists a lot before their on-sky test.
Adaptive Optics (AO) based on artificial beacons is the key to achieve high resolution images from large ground-based telescopes. Long pulsed lasers are preferable to create sodium laser guide stars (LGS) as they allow for Rayleigh blanking. However, these lasers may increase the effective light intensity irradiated at the sodium layer, which may lead to transition saturation, and then decline the normalized return flux efficiency. The return flux might be boosted by optical repumping, which could make full use of the advantages of optical pumping without trapping the atoms to the F=1 ground state. In this paper, we study the optical repumping effect by using a small scale long pulsed sodium laser developed in Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry (TIPC), Chinese Academy of Sciences, whose pulse format may be pretty suitable for large telescopes. An electro-optic phase modulator is used to produce 1.713 GHz sidebands from the D2a center wavelength with the fraction of 20%. As for a vacuum sodium cell at the temperature of 40°C, when the effective laser intensity increases from 4.53×102 W/m2 to 6.99×105 W/ m2, resonant fluorescence with and without repumping is measured. The result illustrates that the resonant scattering brightness with repumping can be as over 3 times as without it when the light intensity changes between 4.53×102 W/m2 to 5 ×104 W/ m2. The saturated phenomenon is also observed. This gives direct evidence that repumping could improve the performance of sodium laser guide stars based on TIPC long pulsed lasers. To our knowledge, this is the first experimental demonstration of the repumping effect with the TIPC type long pulsed laser in laboratory.
An optical parameter oscillator base on KTP nonlinear optical crystals and a frequency doubling Nd:YAG lase was built. The wavelength of the signal light could be tuned from 750-800nm. At the wavelength of 780.2nm it could provide 62mJ each pulse with duration of 14 ns and spectrum (FWHM) about 0.4nm, and at the wavelength of 755nm the energy of each pulse was 10mJ with duration of 8ns. When the signal passed through a 10cm long Rb cell with Ar buffer gas at the temperature of 120°C and the wavelength was tuned from 779nm to 781nm, it could be observed that the fluorescence in the cell changed from dim to clear at first and then declined. Fluorescence could also be observed when the signal wavelength was 755nm and the cell was heated to 180℃. Which indicated that this OPO can provides over 1MW peak power for the research of rubidium lasers and rubidium-rare gas excimer lasers.