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We present a theory describing the transients and rise times of the refractive Kerr nonlinearity which is enhanced using electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT). We restrict our analysis to the case of a pulsed signal field with continuous-wave EIT fields, and all fields are well below saturation. These restrictions enable the reduction of an EIT Kerr, four-level, density-matrix equation to a two-level Bloch-vector equation which has a simple and physically intuitive algebraic solution. The physically intuitive picture of a two-level Bloch vector provides insights that are easily generalized to more complex and experimentally realistic models. We consider generalization to the cases of Doppler broadening, many-level EIT systems (we consider the D1 line of 87Rb), and optically thick media. For the case of optically thick media we find that the rise time of the refractive EIT Kerr effect is proportional to the optical thickness. The rise time of the refractive EIT Kerr effect sets important limitations for potential few-photon applications.


This article was originally published in Physical Review A, volume 74, issue 1, in 2006.

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American Physical Society

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Optics Commons



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