We report the observation of the splitting of an atomic beam by the optical Stern-Gerlach effect. A beam of metastable He atoms interacts with a nearly or exactly resonant laser field with a well-defined intensity gradient perpendicular to the atomic beam. The coherent splitting of the atomic beam is produced in the case of exact resonance. For the nonresonant case, a deflection of the atomic beam is observed. We have studied the splitting and deflection of the atomic beam as a function of laser detuning from resonance. Our results are in good agreement with theoretical predictions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)