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Charged and neutral long-range Rydberg molecules: Internal structure and wave packet dynamics


Within the present proposal we will study charged and neutral long-range Rb2 Rydberg molecules. This will include the state-selective creation, manipulation and detection of these molecules, exploring their properties and studying their propagation in the potential energy curves. We can roughly divide the project into two research lines, according to the charge of the long-range Rydberg molecules.

Charged long-range Rydberg molecules have not been observed yet. We want to demonstrate their existence. Such a molecule consists of an atomic ion and a Rydberg atom which are bound at a distance of about 100 nm. The ion polarizes the Rydberg atom. The polarizability of the atom changes sign at the binding distance such that the two atoms of the molecule feel a repulsive force at shorter distance and an attractive force at larger distance. We will explore the vibrational structure of the Rb2+ - Rydberg molecule and its decay dynamics. Decay can occur via tunneling through a potential barrier, photoionization, spontaneous relaxation, and non-adiabatic transitions. We will uncover and characterize these different processes. Using radio frequency we will manipulate the properties and dynamics of the charged long-range Rydberg molecules.

So far, neutral long-range Rydberg molecules with a principle quantum number in the range n = 14 to 20 have remained relatively unexplored. We recently discovered that their potential energy curves can exhibit a very diverse and complex structure. These complex potential energy curves are a rich playground for studying fine details of the molecule’s interactions, its spin structure and its non-trivial motional dynamics where tunneling, non-adiabaticity, and quantum reflection play an important role. We will explore these topics experimentally for the Rb2 long-range Rydberg molecule in order to deepen and test our current understanding of these objects. In particular, we plan to demonstrate a novel spin-orbit interaction within the long-range Rydberg molecule where the Rydberg electron spin interacts with the electron’s orbital angular momentum around the ground state atom. Furthermore, we will develop novel methods to manipulate the Rydberg molecule and its dynamics using radio frequency.

Principal Investigator

Johannes Hecker Denschlag, Universitaet Ulm

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