Two-Photon Polarization Fourier Spectroscopy of Metastable Atomic Hydrogen

  • A. J. Duncan
  • Z. A. Sheikh
  • H. Kleinpoppen
Part of the Physics of Atoms and Molecules book series (PAMO)


For many years the theoretical and experimental study of atomic hydrogen has been used to improve our understanding and extend our knowledge of the fundamental properties and behaviour of atoms. The states with principal quantum number n=2 are and have been of special interest and importance, in particular with regard to the determination of the fine structure constant and measurement of the Lamb shift. It was, of course, the observations of the Lamb shift in 1947 and 1950 by Lamb and Retherford [1] which, by demonstrating the nondegeneracy of the 22S½ and 22P½ states, confirmed that the 22S½ state would be metastable in experimentally realisable situations, and showed that it should be possible to observe the two-photon emission which is the main mode of decay of this state. However, Göppert-Mayer, in 1931, in a paper [2] which pioneered the field of multiphoton transitions, was the first to predict the possibility of the spontaneous two-photon decay process and, in 1940, Breit and Teller [3] applied this theory to the 22S½ − 12S½ transition in atomic hydrogen. Improved calculations of the characteristics of the two-photon decay process were carried out by Spitzer and Greenstein [4], Shapiro and Breit [5], Zon and Rapaport [6], Klarsfeld [7] and Johnson [8]. Further refinements to the theory have been made for example by Goldman and Drake [9], Parpia and Johnson [10], Tung et al [11], Florescu [12], Costescu [13] and Drake [14]. A comprehensive review concerning the metastability of atomic hydrogen up to 1969 was given by Novick [15] in which he emphasised the various controversies with regard to the metastability or otherwise of the 2S state during the first part of this century.


Spectral Distribution Stokes Parameter Photon Pair Lamb Shift Transmission Axis 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Duncan
    • 1
  • Z. A. Sheikh
    • 1
  • H. Kleinpoppen
    • 1
  1. 1.Atomic Physics LaboratoryUniversity of StirlingStirlingScotland

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