Can a linearly polarized light beam polarize atomic spin?

Yutaka Yoshikawa, Kazumasa Satake, Takahisa Mitsui, Hiroyuki Sasada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Lax et al. [Phys. Rev. 11 (1975) 1365] discovered that a light beam in vacuum is not a transverse wave but does have a longitudinal field component. We investigate atomic and molecular electric dipole transitions induced by such a light beam, in particular, linearly polarized in a transverse plane. We derive the selection rules and the transition rates for various quantization axes using the paraxial approximation up to the first order of 1/kw, where k is the wave number and w is the transverse size of the light beam. The light beam is able to yield atomic spin polarization in the direction perpendicular to both the optical axis and the transverse electric field, and its magnitude is approximately 1/kw times that generated by a circularly polarized light wave with the similar intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-178
Number of pages6
JournalOptics Communications
Issue number1-6
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Apr 1


  • Atomic spin polarization
  • Gaussian beam
  • Linearly polarized light beam
  • Optical pumping
  • Paraxial appproximation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Can a linearly polarized light beam polarize atomic spin?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this