The kicked atom: Characterization of quasi-one-dimensional Rydberg atoms and their nonlinear dynamics
Dunning, F. B.
Master of Science thesis
The characteristics of strongly-polarized quasi-one-dimensional (quasi-1D) Rydberg atoms produced by photoexcitation of selected Stark states in the n = 350 Stark manifold are investigated by studying their ionization when subject to sub-nanosecond unidirectional electric field pulses, termed half-cycle pulses (HCPs), directed both parallel and perpendicular to the atomic axis. The observed differences in the ionization characteristics provide a measure of the anisotropy of the momentum distribution and thus of the quasi-1D nature of the states. The response of such states to a train of HCPs directed parallel and anti-parallel to the axis of polarization of the initial state is also investigated. Pronounced differences in the survival probability are observed confirming theoretical predictions that the dynamical response of the system will be very different for these two conditions. The presence of noise is also observed to play a crucial role in the dynamics. Reasonable agreement between experiment and theory is achieved.