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Abstract: We propose a simple method for measuring the populations and the relative phase in a coherent superposition of two atomic states. The method is based on coupling the two states to a third common (excited) state by means of two laser pulses, and measuring the total fluorescence from the third state for several choices of the excitation pulses.

Abstract: We present experimental and theoretical results of a detailed study of laser-induced continuum structures (LICS) in the photoionization continuum of helium out of the metastable state 2s^1 S_0. The continuum dressing with a 1064 nm laser, couples the same region of the continuum to the 4s^1 S_0 state. The experimental data, presented for a range of intensities, show pronounced ionization suppression (by asmuch as 70% with respect to the far-from-resonance value) as well as enhancement, in a Beutler-Fano resonance profile. This ionization suppression is a clear indication of population trapping mediated by coupling to a contiuum. We present experimental results demonstrating the effect of pulse delay upon the LICS, and for the behavior of LICS for both weak and strong probe pulses. Simulations based upon numerical solution of the Schrödinger equation model the experimental results. The atomic parameters (Rabi frequencies and Stark shifts) are calculated using a simple model-potential method for the computation of the needed wavefunctions. The simulations of the LICS profiles are in excellent agreement with experiment. We also present an analytic formulation of pulsed LICS. We show that in the case of a probe pulse shorter than the dressing one the LICS profile is the convolution of the power spectra of the probe pulse with the usual Fano profile of stationary LICS. We discuss some consequences of deviation from steady-state theory.

Abstract: We show that the physical mechanism of population transfer in a 3-level system with a closed loop of coherent couplings (loop-STIRAP) is not equivalent to an adiabatic rotation of the dark-state of the Hamiltonian but coresponds to a rotation of a higher-order trapping state in a generalized adiabatic basis. The concept of generalized adiabatic basis sets is used as a constructive toolto design pulse sequences for stimulated Raman adiabatic passage (STIRAP) which give maximum population transfer also under conditions when the usual condition of adiabaticty is only poorly fulfilled. Under certain conditions for the pulses (generalized matched pulses) there exists a higher-order trapping state, which is an exact constant of motion and analytic solutions for the atomic dynamics can be derived.

We present results from a study of the coherence properties of a system involving three discrete states coupled to each other by two-photon processes via a common continuum. This tripod linkage is an extension of the standard laser-induced continuum structure (LICS) which involves two discrete states and two lasers. We show that in the tripod scheme, there exist two population trapping conditions; in some cases these conditions are easier to satisfy than the single trapping condition in two-state LICS. Depending on the pulse timing, various effects can be observed. We derive some basic properties of the tripod scheme, such as the solution for coincident pulses, the behaviour of the system in the adiabatic limit for delayed pulses, the conditions for no ionization and for maximal ionization, and the optimal conditions for population transfer between the discrete states via the continuum. In the case when one of the discrete states is strongly coupled to the continuum, the population dynamics reduces to a standard two-state LICS problem (involving the other two states) with modified parameters; this provides the opportunity to customize the parameters of a given two-state LICS system.