Orientation and Alignment in Scattering Processes from Laser-Excited Atoms
We discuss qualitative differences observed in collisions of optically pumped Na(3P) atoms with electrons and diatomic molecules. Varying the scattering geometry and the polarization of the pumping laser prepares well-defined spatial configurations of the colliding Na and allows measurement of details on the ratios and relative phases of the partial transition amplitudes. We compare the electron-collision-induced transitions P → S (I), P → D in Na (II), and the quenching of Na(3P) by diatomic molecules (III). The three cases exhibit remarkably different responses to orientation (circular) and alignment (linear polarized pumping light) of the Na: I and II depend strongly on the orientation, III not measurably. In contrast, in cases I and III the alignment is strong, while for case II it is weak. Process I is well described by scattering calculations. For cases II and III we present qualitative models to interpret the experimental observations.
KeywordsAngular Momentum Density Matrix Diatomic Molecule Born Approximation Quench Cross Section
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