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Rydberg-Atom Interferometry

Palmer, James E.; (2020) Rydberg-Atom Interferometry. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Matter-wave interferometry has many possible uses, ranging from tests of funda- mental physics to applications in sensing. In order to achieve this interferometry, quantum superpositions of spatially-separated components need to be generated. There are several possible methods to accomplish this using Rydberg atoms; this thesis presents the experimental investigation of two of these. Both of these methods use inhomogeneous electric fields to spatially split beams of Rydberg atoms. In the first method, field distributions were generated above two-dimensional electrode structures and used to transversely split beams of helium Rydberg atoms into pairs of components spatially separated by up to 15.6 mm. Effects of amplitude modulation of the electric fields of this beam splitter were shown to cause particle losses through transitions into unconfined Rydberg-Stark states. This led to further studies of the depolarisation of Rydberg-Stark states in radio-frequency electric fields. Through this work it is shown that both ‘resonant’ and ‘non-resonant’ broadband modulation with amplitudes on the order of 10 mV·cm⁻¹ are sufficient to cause significant depolarisation of initially prepared quantum states on a timescale of 5 μs in a static offset electric field of 0.43 V·cm⁻¹. In a second class of experiments, matter-wave interferometry has been per- formed with helium atoms in high Rydberg states. In this work a series of mi- crowave and electric field gradient pulses were used to create a spatial separation between two components of a coherent superposition of states, while ensuring that the momenta of these components were equal at the end of the process to enable matter-wave interference to be observed. For the Rydberg states used, the spatial extent of the Rydberg electron wavefunction was ∼ 320 nm and displacements of up to 150 pm were observed between the pairs of matter-wave components at the end of the interferometry sequences.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Rydberg-Atom Interferometry
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Physics and Astronomy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10093164
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