Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

Degree Level





Min Xiao

Committee Member

William G. Harter

Second Committee Member

Surendra P. Singh

Third Committee Member

Gregory J. Salamo

Fourth Committee Member

Craig W. Thompson


Pure sciences, Atomic coherence, Electromagnetically induced transparency, Multi-level-atoms, Multi-wave-mixing, Nonlinear optics, Phase control


In this thesis, atomic coherence is used to enhance nonlinear optical processes in multi-level atoms. The multi-photon transitions are driven resonantly, and at the same time without absorptive losses, by using electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT), thereby allowing the study of χ(3) and χ(5) nonlinearities using weak driving fields. The coherently modified probe beam(s) and the atom-radiated signal fields arising from four- and six- wave- mixing (FWM and SWM) processes are measured in the spectral, temporal and spatial domains.

In a three-level ladder-type atomic system, multiple peaks having spectral asymmetries are observed in the EIT window as well as in the FWM signal waveforms due to the diverse multiplicities of the participating atomic states. Using phase control tailored in the frequency domain, we demonstrate all-optical methods to control these spectral waveforms and discuss applications involving waveform-shaping and metrology. For the EIT study we demonstrate a switching of multiple dark peaks into bright peaks via phase-control of interferences in the underlying dark-states. In the FWM study we demonstrate all-optical spectral line shape symmetrization, linewidth narrowing and bandwidth switching.

In a four-level inverted-Y-type atomic system, we drive and measure coexisting and phase-matched FWM and SWM signals. By using precision control of the relative phase and amplitude between these two processes of different nonlinear orders, we demonstrate phase coherence between them. First, a single-phase measurement is performed in the temporal and spatial domains, and the interferogram is used to measure the resonant frequency of the 5D5/2-5P3/2 atomic transition in 85Rb. Second, the method is extended to realize a capacity for two-phase measurement. In this case, the spectral bandwidth of the signal is modified in order to measure the phase-shift occurring in one Mach-Zehnder interferometer, while the intensity of the total signal waveform measures the phase-shift occurring in a second interferometer.

Finally, we demonstrate phase-dependent spatial fusion between two ultra-weak optical fields by using a strong coupling field to first convert the weak fields into bosonic dark-state polaritons, which are then steered into a common all-optical waveguide mode arising due to the coupling field's intensity distribution and the resulting cross-Kerr refractive index gradient.