The theoretical description of the external degrees of freedom of atoms trapped inside a magneto-optical trap (MOT) often relies on the decoupling of the evolution of the internal and external degrees of freedom. That is possible thanks to much shorter timescales typically associated with the first ones. The electronic structure of alkaline-earth atoms, on the other hand, presents ultra-narrow transitions and metastable states that makes such an approximation invalid in the general case. In this article, we report on a model based on open Bloch equations for the evolution of the number of atoms in a magneto-optical trap. With this model we investigate the loading of the strontium blue magneto-optical trap under different repumping schemes, either directly from a Zeeman slower, or from an atomic reservoir made of atoms in a metastable state trapped in the magnetic quadrupolar field. The fluorescence observed on the strong 461~nm transition is recorded and quantitatively compared with the results from our simulations. The comparison between experimental results and calculations within our model allowed to identify the existence of the decay paths between the upper level of the repumping transition and the dark strontium metastable states, which could not be explained by electric dipole transition rates calculated in the literature. Moreover, our analysis pinpoints the role of the atomic movement in limiting the efficiency of the atomic repumping of the Sr metastable states.
- magneto-optical trap
- repumping schemes
- cold atoms
- alkaline-earth atoms
- inhomogeneous Bloch equations