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Atoms in an ultracold highly excited sample are strongly coupled through the dipole-dipole interaction. In an effort to understand and manipulate the complicated interactions in this system we are investigating their dependence on the relative orientation of the dipoles. By focusing a 480 nm beam from a tunable dye laser into a magneto-optical trap, we produce a nearly one-dimensional sample of Rydberg atoms. The trap lies at the center of four conducting rods with which we can vary the magnitude and direction of the electric field at the trap, thus controlling the orientation of the dipoles with respect to the sample axis.We have measured the strength of the interaction for a variety of relative orientations.


Originally published in Physical Review Letters, Volume 93, Number 15. Copyright 2004, The American Physical Society.


Thomas J. Carroll was affiliated with Bryn Mawr College at the time of publication.