Two Experiments with Cold Atoms: I. Application of Bessel Beams for Atom Optics, and II. Spectroscopic Measurements of Rydberg Blockade Effect
Hill, III, Wendell
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In this dissertation we report the results of two experimental projects with laser-cooled rubidium atoms: I. Application of Bessel beams for atom optics, and II. Spectroscopic measurements of Rydberg blockade effect. The first part of the thesis is devoted to the development of new elements of atom optics based on blue-detuned high-order Bessel beams. Properties of a 4th order Bessel beam as an atomic guide were investigated for various parameters of the hollow beam, such as the detuning from an atomic resonance, size and the order of the Bessel beam. We extended its application to create more complicated interferometer-type structures by demonstrating a tunnel lock, a novel device that can split an atomic cloud, transport it, delay, and switch its propagation direction between two guides. We reported a first-time demonstration of an atomic beam switch based on the combination of two crossed Bessel beams. We achieved the 30% efficiency of the switch limited by the geometrical overlap between the cloud and the intersection volume of the two tunnels, and investigate the heating processes induced by the switch. We also showed other applications of crossed Bessel beams, such as a 3-D optical trap for atoms confined in the intersection volume of two hollow beams and a splitter of the atomic density. The second part of this dissertation is devoted to the spectroscopic measurements of the Rydberg blockade effect, a conditional suppression of Rydberg excitations depending on the state of a control atom. We assembled a narrow-linewidth, tunable, frequency stabilized laser system at 480 nm to excite laser-cooled rubidium atoms to Rydberg states with a high principal quantum number n ~ 50 through a two-photon transition. We applied the laser system to observe the Autler-Townes splitting of the intermediate 5p state and used the broadening of the resonance features to investigate the enhancement of Rydberg-Rydberg interactions in the presence of an external electric field.