A high power narrow line width (38 W, 0.09 nm full width at half maximum) external cavity diode laser is investigated for rubidium spin exchange optical pumping of Xe-129. This tunable photon source has a constant line width, independent of operating power or wavelength within a 1 nm tuning range. When using this laser, an increase in the Xe-129 nuclear polarization is observed when optically pumping at a lower wavelength than the measured Rb electron D-1 absorption. The exact detuning from D1 for the highest polarization is dependent upon the gas density. Furthermore, at high power and/or high Rb density, a reduction in the polarization occurs at the optimum wavelength as previously reported in spin exchange optical pumping studies of He-3 which is consistent with high absorption close to the cell front face. These results are encouraging for moderate high throughput polarization of Xe-129 in the midpressure range of (0.5-2.0 amagat). (C) 2010 American Institute of Physics. [doi: 10.1063/1.3478707
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