Design and development of an apparatus to study atom-surface interactions using Rydberg atoms
Haich, Christian Allen
Dunning, F. B.
Master of Arts
An apparatus has been developed for studying the interaction of Rydberg atoms with surfaces, particularly the perturbation of Rydberg states by a nearby surface and the distance from the surface at which resonance ionization occurs. For this purpose, a source of metastable Xe(3P 0,2) atoms was constructed and characterized. Using single photon laser excitation from the 6s'[1/2]0 state, the nf[3/2]1 Rydberg series for n = 16--20 has been observed with signals well above the background. Measurements of the energy levels of these Rydberg states has identified systematic errors in quoted energy levels from earlier work. The isotopic structure of the 20f Rydberg state was resolved, and the effect of Rydberg excitation in an electric field was investigated. Studies are underway to better understand the behavior of Xe(nf) Rydberg atoms in an electric field. This information will be used in subsequent experiments to study Rydberg-surface interactions.
Condensed matter physics; Atomic physics