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Quantum control of the pathway along which a Rydberg electron field ionizes is experimentally and computationally demonstrated. Selective field ionization is typically done with a slowly rising electric field pulse. The (1/n*)4 scaling of the classical ionization threshold leads to a rough mapping between arrival time of the electron signal and principal quantum number of the Rydberg electron. This is complicated by the many avoided level crossings that the electron must traverse on the way to ionization, which in general leads to broadening of the time-resolved field ionization signal. In order to control the ionization pathway, thus directing the signal to the desired arrival time, a perturbing electric field produced by an arbitrary wave-form generator is added to a slowly rising electric field. A genetic algorithm evolves the perturbing field in an effort to achieve the target time-resolved field ionization signal.


Originally published in Physical Review A, 96, 023403. Copyright 2017, American Physical Society.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.96.023403