Strongly Interacting Rydberg Excitations of a Cold Atomic Gas

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Science  19 Apr 2012:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1217901

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Highly excited Rydberg atoms have many exaggerated properties. In particular, the interaction strength between such atoms can be varied over an enormous range. In a mesoscopic ensemble, such strong, long-range interactions can be used for fast preparation of desired many-particle states. We generate Rydberg excitations in an ultra-cold atomic gas, and subsequently convert them into light. As the principal quantum number n is increased beyond ∼ 70, no more than a single excitation is retrieved from the entire mesoscopic ensemble of atoms. These results hold promise for studies of dynamics and disorder in many-body systems with tunable interactions and for scalable quantum information networks.

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