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Quantum Nonequilibrium Physics with Rydberg Atoms


Lee, Tony Eilo (2012) Quantum Nonequilibrium Physics with Rydberg Atoms. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/0N4R-5Y37.


A Rydberg atom is an atom excited to a high energy level, and there is a strong dipole-dipole interaction between nearby Rydberg atoms. While there has been much interest in closed systems of Rydberg atoms, less is known about open systems of Rydberg atoms with spontaneous emission. This thesis explores the latter.

We consider a lattice of atoms, laser-excited from the ground state to a Rydberg state and spontaneously decaying back to the ground state. Using mean-field theory, we study the how the steady-state Rydberg population varies across the lattice. There are three phases: uniform, antiferromagnetic, and oscillatory.

Then we consider the dynamics of the quantum model when mean-field theory predicts bistability. Over time, the system occasionally jumps between a state of low Rydberg population and a state of high Rydberg population. We explain how entanglement and quantum measurement enable the jumps, which are otherwise classically forbidden.

Finally, we let each atom be laser-excited to a short-lived excited state in addition to a Rydberg state. This three-level configuration leads to rich spatiotemporal dynamics that are visible in the fluorescence from the short-lived excited state. The atoms develop strong spatial correlations that change on a long time scale.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Rydberg atoms, nonequilibrium, quantum jumps, spontaneous emission
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Cross, Michael Clifford
Thesis Committee:
  • Cross, Michael Clifford (chair)
  • Refael, Gil
  • Preskill, John P.
  • Painter, Oskar J.
Defense Date:2 May 2012
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05232012-231713032
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7071
Deposited By: Tony Lee
Deposited On:29 May 2012 21:37
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:56

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