Photoionization cross-sections of the first excited states of sodium and lithium in a magneto-optical trap

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A two element magneto-optical trap (MOT) for Na and 7Li or 6Li is used to cool and trap each of them separately. A fraction of the cold atoms is maintained in the first 2P3/2 excited state by the cooling laser. These excited state atoms are ionized by laser light in the near-UV region, giving rise to a smaller number of trapped atoms and to different loading parameters. Photoionization cross-sections were derived out of these data. They are in reasonable agreement with data previously obtained using thermal samples and with theoretical predictions.

Received 21 March 2001 and Received in final form 3 August 2001