Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access


Physics & Astronomy

Faculty Mentor

Thomas Carroll

Student Contributor

Xinyue Kang


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

A Rydberg atom has a highly excited valence electron which is weakly bound and far from the nucleus. These atoms have exaggerated properties that make them attractive candidates for quantum computation and studies of fundamental quantum mechanics. A widely used method for measuring the energy level of the outer electron is to ionize it with an electric field pulse and send it to a detector where the resulting spectrum is measured. However, this technique fails to resolve energy levels that are closely spaced. The electron’s path to ionization branches several hundreds of times, causing neighboring energy levels to overlap. By using an engineered electric field pulse, we can manipulate which branches the electron follows. To design our electric field pulse, we created a genetic algorithm. A genetic algorithm is an optimization process analogous to biological evolution. Our algorithm creates a random population of electric field pulses, evaluates the fitness of the field pulses, and allows the fittest members of the population to mate and create a new generation. We present results of our simulations.