This week we welcomed Dr. Weibin Li from the University of Nottingham who spoke about “Rydberg excitation in thermal Rydberg gases”. The abstract for this AMOPP seminar can be found below.
Rydberg excitation in thermal Rydberg gases
The creation of optical nonlinearities in atomic gases become a challenging task with increasing temperature, due to large Doppler effects. We study single photon excitation of electronically high-lying Rydberg states by nanosecond laser pulses that propagate in a high density thermal gas of alkali atoms. Fast Rabi flopping and strong Rydberg atom interactions, both in the order of GHz, overcome Doppler effects and dephasing due to thermal collisions between Rydberg electrons and surrounding atoms. The latter has not been taken into account appropriately so far. We show that a sizable dispersive nonlinearity is generated by strong interactions between Rydberg atoms. Despite the Rydberg optical nonlinearity, solitary propagation, i.e., self-induced transparency (SIT), of the light pulse can still occur. The existence of SIT allows to implement a conditional optical phase gate in the thermal gas through harvesting strong interactions. Our study paves the route to study nonlinear optics in thermal Rydberg gases and directly contributes to the current effort in realising scalable quantum information and communication devices with glass cell technologies.