Physics & Astronomy
Rydberg atoms are traditionally alkali metal atoms with their valence electron excited to a state of very large principle quantum number. They possess exaggerated properties, and are consequently an attractive area of study for physicists. An example of their exaggerated properties is seen in their response to the presence of an applied electric ﬁeld. In this work, we study the energy distribution of Rydberg atoms when subjected to a dynamic electric ﬁeld intended to ionize them.
We excite 85Rb atoms to a superposition of the 46D5/2 |mj| = 1/2 and |mj| = 3/2 states in the presence of a small initial electric ﬁeld. After a delay time, the electric ﬁeld is pulsed in order to ionize the atoms. The current produced by the ejected electrons is measured. Calculations and experimental data are presented which display interference eﬀects between the amplitude from the components of the initial superposition.
Hollingsworth, Jacob A., "Quantum Mechanical Interference in the Field Ionization of Rydberg Atoms" (2016). Physics and Astronomy Honors Papers. Paper 1.