Abstract

Through the use of continuous diode laser absorption, detection of transient fluorine atoms with an initial number density in the range of 1014 cm−3 has been demonstrated. A crucial part of the continuous-detection technique was laser frequency stabilization with a reference cell of atomic fluorine with Zeeman modulation of the absorption lines to generate a feedback signal. Long-term wavelength stability was demonstrated with second-harmonic phase-sensitive detection of the second-derivative signal for periods up to several hours. For determination of the short-term wavelength stability in the range of microseconds to seconds, a transient signal was generated by photolysis of F2 with an excimer laser at 308 nm. The initial diode laser absorption was compared to a calculated value obtained from the measured excimer laser fluence, the known dissociation cross section of F2, and the atomic fluorine absorption cross section, which included a statistical population distribution, the finite bandwidth of the laser diode, and the effects of pressure broadening. The observed absorption was approximately 33% less than the calculated value, possibly because of the diode laser’s wavelength instability on the time scale of a few seconds, which is consistent with an observed amplitude instability from pulse to pulse when pulsed at 1–10 Hz.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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