Optical Quenching of Metastable Helium Atoms using Excitation to the $4P$ State
Published 2019-06-16Version 1
Discharge and electron-impact excitation lead to the production of metastable helium atoms in two metastable states, 2$^1$S$_0$ and 2$^3$S$_1$. However, many applications require pure beams of one of these species or at least a detailed knowledge of the relative state populations. In this paper, we present the characterization of an original experimental scheme for the optical depletion of He(2$^1$S$_0$) in a supersonic beam which is based on the optical excitation of the 4$^1$P$_1 \leftarrow 2^1$S$_0$ transition at 397 nm using a diode laser. From our experimental results and from a comparison with numerical calculations, we infer a near unit depletion efficiency at all beam velocities under study (1070 m/s $\leq v \leq$ 1750 m/s). Since the technique provides a direct means to determine the singlet-to-triplet ratio in a pulsed supersonic helium beam, our results show that the intrabeam singlet-to-triplet ratio is different at the trailing edges of the gas pulse.