COLLISIONS OF LASER EXCITED XENON RYDBERG ATOMS WITH AMMONIA
KELLERT, FORREST GRAHAM
Doctor of Philosophy
In thermal collisions between Xe(nf) Rydberg atoms and NH(,3) collisional depopulation of the nf state occurs through at least three distinct mechanisms: n-changing collisions, l-changing collisions, and ionizing collisions. Using selective field ionization, the total collisional depopulation rate constants k(,d) are measured for laser-excited Xe(nf) atoms in the n range of 22 to 39. The magnitudes of k(,d) are large, corresponding to reaction cross sections comparable to the geometric size of the Xe(nf) atom at n = 22. In the n range of 25 to 40, Xe('+) ion production provides an absolute measure of the rate constants for collisional ionization. Approximate rate constants for n-and l-changing collisions are also presented for the 31f state. In these experiments, one finds that the state-changing collision rate constants are fairly independent of n and are determined largely by the l-changing collisions. The collisional ionization rate constants measured are smaller than the state-changing rate constants and increase with increasing n, ranging between 0.2 and 4.6 x 10('-7) cm('3)/sec for n between 25 and 40. The present results are compared to those of recent theoretical calculations.