Atomic clock - optical pumping

  • Thread starter Moth
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I am doing some research on atomic clocks. From what I have read, I understand that in Rb atomic clocks you:

-optically pump a cell of Rb, so that the electrons are all in a single hyperfine state
-subject the cell to microwaves of appropriate frequency, so that the electrons will be stimulated into the other hyperfine groundstate
-see how well the microwave frequency worked
-modify the frequency accordingly and try again

However, I am unclear whether the optical pumping puts the electrons in the higher F=1 state or the lower F=2 state (and the microwaves then attempt to do the opposite). Can you tell me which is used?
 

DrClaude

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However, I am unclear whether the optical pumping puts the electrons in the higher F=1 state or the lower F=2 state (and the microwaves then attempt to do the opposite). Can you tell me which is used?
First, ##F = 1## is the ground state, not the other way around. Second, why would it matter? The important thing is to get as polarized a sample as possible.

Third, the optical pumping is to the excited ##F=2## state (via the ##F=3## state in an excited electronic state). The microwave signal then induces emission from ##F=2## to ##F=1##.
 

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