Note: In situ measurement of vacuum window birefringence by atomic spectroscopy

Steffen, Andreas; Alt, Wolfgang; Genske, Maximilian; Meschede, Dieter; Robens, Carsten; Alberti, Andrea
December 2013
Review of Scientific Instruments;Dec2013, Vol. 84 Issue 12, p126103
Academic Journal
We present an in situ method to measure the birefringence of a single vacuum window by means of microwave spectroscopy on an ensemble of cold atoms. Stress-induced birefringence can cause an ellipticity in the polarization of an initially linearly polarized laser beam. The amount of ellipticity can be reconstructed by measuring the differential vector light shift of an atomic hyperfine transition. Measuring the ellipticity as a function of the linear polarization angle allows us to infer the amount of birefringence Δn at the level of 10-8 and identify the orientation of the optical axes. The key benefit of this method is the ability to separately characterize each vacuum window, allowing the birefringence to be precisely compensated in existing vacuum apparatuses.


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