Proceedings PaperOverview of experimental investigations of laser bandwidth effects in nonlinear optics
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A number of experimental investigations have been carried out over the past fifteen years which have been used to study the effect of the bandwidth of the laser on various nonlinear optical interactions. These are useful and interesting for a number of reasons. On the technical side laser bandwidth effects can limit the accuracy of measurements of the frequency of atomic transitions as well as the determination of the strength of the interaction. Of a more fundamental interest is the question of the behavior of the nonlinear atomic system when interacting with the non-monochromatic field. In the first experiments carried out to investigate these effects lasers were used which could be operated on a single longitudinal mode or on multiple modes corresponding to the presence or absence of an intra-cavity etalon. Following this a number of techniques were developed to modulate the amplitude phase and/or frequency of the output of a stabilized cw laser with a random (but well-characterized) signal. In this way laser fields could be generated in the laboratory which closely approximate models of laser fields on which theorists have based calculations of laser bandwidth effects. These works allow direct quantitative comparison of results with theory. A number of these field models which can now be generated in the laboratory will be discussed as well as measurements of the role they play in nonlinear interactions.