A "Course" in Atomic Physics
Optical Pumping is a widely used and powerful technique for exploring atomic energy states, atomic transitions, and atomic collisions using electromagnetism in the form of light, radio frequency, and uniform constant magnetic fields. TeachSpin’s Optical Pumping apparatus explores the atomic physics of both isotopes of natural rubidium.
The rubidium atom is an ideal model system for students to study. Its energy states, in an externally applied uniform magnetic field, can be understood using a semi-classical model. This model describes the coupling of a single electronic orbital and spin angular momentum with the nuclear spin angular momentum and of the coupled system to the external field. The experimental determination of these atomic energy states can be compared to the theoretical predictions of the Briet-Rabi equation. The two isotopes of rubidium, Rb85 and Rb87, with different nuclear magnetic moments, make the experimental data even richer.
TeachSpin's Optical Pumping apparatus allows the student to explore a wealth of atomic physics, including temperature dependent cross-sections for photon absorption, zero magnetic field transitions, spin-spin collision processes, field inversion measurements, Rabi oscillation of the atomic magnetic moment, optical pumping times, and other atomic physics experiments. It is only a small exaggeration to claim these experiments constitute an atomic physics course.