Coherent Control of the Polarization of an Optical Field

Recent work has shown that it is possible to use one laser beam to coherently manipulate a material's absorption1 or index of refraction associated with a second laser beam. We have demonstrated that similar techniques can be used to control the tensor properties of an initially isotropic system in such a way that one field can completely and efficiently control the polarization state of another field. Our experiments show that by varying the state of polarization of the control field, it is possible to induce linear or circular birefringence in an atomic gas, resulting in the transformation of the polarization state of a probe beam from linear to any desired polarization state with a total energy throughput greater than 94%.

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