Date of this Version
PHYSICAL REVIEW A 86, 053416 (2012)
We have developed a simple heuristic method for determining the polarization of an optically pumped alkalimetal vapor. A linearly polarized probe beam traverses a vapor cell perpendicular to the pump-beam propagation direction, and the transmitted beam intensity is monitored for orthogonal linear polarizations. As the probe beam is scanned in frequency across the D1 transition, its linear-polarization-dependent transmission can be used as a measure of the atomic orientation of the vapor. We analyze these transmission differences and their dependence on the alkali-metal number density in the vapor.