Theory of a single-atom laser including light forces

Thomas Salzburger, Peter Domokos, Helmut Ritsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


We study a single incoherently pumped atom moving within an optical high-Q resonator in the strong-coupling regime. Using a semiclassical description for the atom and field dynamics, we derive a closed system of differential equations to describe this coupled atom-field dynamics. For sufficiently strong pumping, the system starts lasing when the atom gets close to a field antinode, and the associated light forces provide for self-trapping of the atom. For a cavity mode blue detuned with respect to the atomic transition frequency, this is combined with cavity-induced motional cooling, allowing for long-term steady-state operation of such a laser. The analytical results for temperature and field statistics agree well with our earlier predictions based on quantum Monte Carlo simulations. We find sub-Doppler temperatures that decrease with gain and coupling strength, and can even go beyond the limit of passive cavity cooling. Besides demonstrating the importance of light forces in single-atom lasers, this result also gives strong evidence to enhance laser cooling through stimulated emission in resonators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number033805
JournalPhysical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics

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