Effects of strong interactions in ultracold Rydberg gases

Date of Completion

January 2007


Physics, Molecular|Physics, Atomic




In this thesis I present several theoretical methods to explore the excitation dynamics of Ultracold Rydberg systems in various regimes. For some applications the details of interactions between Rydberg atoms have to be carefully examined, while for others, the many-body aspect of Rydberg excitation may be crucial. In both cases, the basic prerequisite is to know the interactions sufficiently well. I will review the basic concepts how to evaluate molecular potentials in various Hund's cases and approximations. Long-range Rydberg-Rydberg interactions between Rydberg atoms induce ℓ-mixing which in certain situations gives rise to molecular resonances. For these resonances, we calculate long-range potentials in Hund's case (c) by diagonalization of an interaction matrix. The excitation dynamics of the resonances is always modeled as pair excitation. At high principal quantum number n, the interactions between Rydberg atoms can blockade the excitation of many surrounding atoms in the range of few μm. The atoms within this range are strongly correlated so that many-body treatments are, in general, needed. To describe this blockading effect and other manifestations of the collective behavior of Rydberg excitation, such as the many-body Rabi oscillations, spatial correlations between atoms and the fluctuations of the number of excited atoms, I have used three different approaches. In the mean-field approach the interactions between different atoms is modeled by a distribution of mean-field shifts for which a distribution of probabilities is calculated, A good agreement between the theoretical model and experimental measurements is found. To study the correlations between atoms the many-body wavefunction is numerically computed. The possibility of observing the many-body Rabi oscillations of Rydberg excitation and other aspects of many-body dynamics is analyzed. Although strong interactions cannot be treated perturbatively other expansions may be feasible. I will show that the expansion in powers of the single atom Rabi frequency can be evaluated in the interaction and Heisenberg picture. The expansion is expected to behave well for arbitrary strong interactions. ^