Dynamics of a Two-Level Medium Under the Action of Short Optical Pulses

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Optical Bloch equations are used to describe the dynamics of a two-level atomic medium subjected to ultrafast optical pulses. Starting with an uninverted system, the final atomic state is numerically studied. The generalization of the Bloch equations for a dense medium such that induced near dipole-dipole interactions are significant can result in a switching behavior of the atomic population inversion. Based on numerical investigations for typical pulse shapes, the mechanism of switching is explained in terms of dynamical systems theory.