Measuring the reabsorption cross section of a magneto-optical trap

Rudy Romain, Hélène Louis, Philippe Verkerk, Daniel Hennequin

Phys. Rev. A 89 053425 (2014)

Magneto-optical traps have been used for several decades. Among fundamental mechanisms occurring in such traps, the magnitude of the multiple scattering is still unclear. Indeed, many experimental situations cannot be modeled easily, different models predict different values of the reabsorption cross section, and no simple experimental measurements of this cross section are available. We propose in this paper a simple measurement of this cross section through the size and the shape of the cloud of cold atoms. We apply this method to traps with a configuration where theoretical values are available and show that the measured values are compatible with some models. We also apply the method to configurations where models are not relevant and show that the reabsorption is sometimes much larger than the usually assumed value.