Rydberg optics: Of Rydberg atom and molecule accelerators, mirrors and traps

Prof. Frédéric Merkt
ETH Zurich

Atomic and molecular Rydberg states of high principal quantum numbers (n>20) have unusual physical properties that scale with integer powers of the principal quantum number: The polarizability scales as n7, the van der Waals interaction between two neighboring Rydberg particles as n11, the dipole moment induced by an electric field as a result of the linear Stark effect as n2, etc. The unusual preperties of high Rydberg states are at the origin of several recent scientific applications in the fields of quantum information processing and atom and molecule optics.

Recent and still unpublished work carried out in the past months at ETH Zurich will be presented in which an extensive control of the translational motion of Rydberg atoms has been reached. Examples will include the recent implementations of a Rydberg atom accelerator, a Rydberg atom lens, a Rydberg atom normal-incidence mirror and a Rydberg atom trap.