Mentor: Dr. Michael Noel
Over the course of the summer, I will be involved in researching atoms in Rydberg states. A Rydberg atoms is where the valence (outermost) electron is excited to a higher energy level than its ground state in the atom. The sample used will be a cold gas of Rubidium atoms. I am going to work on completing the setting up for the Magneto-Optical Trap (MOT) apparatus. The MOT is essentially a set-up that uses a combination of laser beams and a magnetic field to slow down and trap a clump of atoms in a vacuum chamber. In our apparatus, we will be using 6 infrared laser beams, for which we can alter the frequency to change the specific energy level of the Rydberg atoms we trap. The set up also includes a set of magnetic coils that act as a magnet when electric current is passed through them. Once this set-up is complete, we will begin work on what is called the Far Off Resonant Trap (FORT). This set up involves the introduction of another laser beam which will isolate a single trap from the trap obtained from the MOT. The final goal for the experiment is to then include a blue laser with the required frequency, to provide the energy necessary to excite the isolated, trapped Rubidium atoms. With multiple beams in the FORT, this will result in a (essentially one dimensional) string of excited Rubidium atoms in the Rydberg state, which will allow us to observe the interactions between two isolated high energy Rubidium atoms, as opposed to the previously investigated many-body interactions between a clump of atoms in the Rydberg state.
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0134676.