Long-Range Interactions in an Ultracold Rubidium Rydberg Gas

Date of Completion

January 2010


Physics, Quantum|Physics, Molecular|Physics, Atomic




New phenomena have been observed by exciting ultracold ground-state atoms to Rydberg states. Starting with a dense sample of Rb atoms in a magneto-optical trap, we excite them to high Rydberg states (n = 30 - 90) with a single UV excitation pulse. Long-range molecular resonances with interatomic distances exceeding 104 a0 have been discovered. We have also observed the Rydberg excitation blockade, crucial for the implementation of quantum phase gates using neutral atoms. The physics behind these observations is attributed to the strong long-range van der Waals interactions among the Rydberg atoms. In addition, we have seen dipole (E1) forbidden but quadrupole (E2) allowed 5s nd transitions, allowing us to determine the E2 oscillator strengths to these high Rydberg states. Our narrow-band UV pulsed laser system, with ∼100 MHz bandwidth, also allows us to measure the ratios of j-dependent oscillator strengths to the p and d Rydberg states. ^