We report a detailed investigation of excited-state alignment-to-orientation conversion in the presence of an external magnetic field. This counterintuitive phenomenon occurs under intermediate-coupling conditions. A weak, linearly polarized, cw laser beam was used to excite and align the Na 3P3/2 state in an atomic beam along the z direction. The degree of circular polarization of the resulting fluorescence was detected along the z direction as a function of magnetic-field strength. The spectrally integrated transitions originating from individual F levels of the 3S1/2 state yield a maximum circular-polarization fraction of ∼40%; integrating the circular polarization over all the allowed 3S1/2-3P3/2 transitions gives rise to an ∼8% effect. The results are predicted by the Breit formula, which is in excellent agreement with our observations.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/xianming_han/22/