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Superradiant light scattering and grating formation in cold atomic vapours

Piovella, N. and Bonifacio, R. and McNeil, B.W.J. and Robb, G.R.M. (2001) Superradiant light scattering and grating formation in cold atomic vapours. Optics Communications, 187 (1). pp. 165-170. ISSN 0030-4018

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A semi-classical theory of coherent light scattering from an elongated sample of cold atoms exposed to an off-resonant laser beam is presented. The model, which is a direct extension of that of the collective atomic recoil laser, describes the emission of two superradiant pulses along the sample's major axis simultaneous with the formation of a bidimensional atomic grating inside the sample. It provides a simple physical picture of the recent observation of collective light scattering from a Bose-Einstein condensate [Science 285 (1999) 571]. In addition, the model provides an analytical description of the temporal evolution of the scattered light intensity which shows good quantitative agreement with the experimental results of Inouye et al.