Coherent Atom-Light Interactions in Rydberg Systems

Odufowora, Ayooluwa Olakunle (2021). Coherent Atom-Light Interactions in Rydberg Systems. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis investigates the effects of strong Rydberg-Rydberg interactions in the presence of three-level coherent phenomena such as electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT), Autler-Townes splitting (ATS) and coherent population trapping (CPT). As a result of their remarkable properties, highly excited Rydberg atoms have great potential for applications in diverse areas. The interaction-induced dipole blockade between the Rydberg atoms has been proposed as a fundamental tool in quantum information processing with neutral atoms. Yet, they require an increasing level of understanding and control.

A many-body theory is developed for the Rydberg excitation dynamics in various atomic systems with different densities and velocity distributions such as for atoms in a vapour cell, ultracold atoms in magneto-optical and optical dipole traps, or a system of optical lattices or dipole trap arrays. The systems were investigated by solving the optical Bloch equations numerically for a two-photon ladder excitation scheme, taking into consideration various experimentally relevant conditions for the emergence of the effects of Rydberg-Rydberg interactions. The lineshape properties of the EIT/ATS/CPT spectra are observed and reviewed while the physical arguments for how the lineshape properties change as a function of various parameters are provided. To account for the differing atomic distributions in the atomic systems, a many-body model based on Monte-Carlo simulation is developed to describe the optical response of the multiatoms systems to two-photon excitation laser lights in the regimes of EIT, ATS and CPT and strong atomic interactions. The study of the lineshape properties allows one to understand possible ways to detect the emergence of interaction-induced excitation suppression, asymmetry, line shift and excitation "antiblockade" enhancement effects. Besides these, the main result of this study is the demonstration that the linewidth properties of the Rydberg EIT/ATS/CPT spectra can reveal collective many-body behaviour associated with the creation of many-body entangled states. The linewidth properties provide compelling evidence of the creation of collective states by confirming the predicted dependence of the generalised Rabi frequency on the square root of the number of atoms in the mesoscopic ensemble. This study could help to quantify and control the conditions necessary for creating many-body entanglement within atomic ensembles.

The thesis also describes the step towards experimentally investigating the response of an atomic system to excitation lasers and studying the excitation dynamics of interacting atoms in such systems. Significant work was done to set up the two-photon excitation system for preparing atoms in high-lying Rydberg states and performing Rydberg-based vapour cell experiments. Qualitative analysis of the Rydberg states transparency features allows to obtain laser parameters such as the laser linewidths and Rabi frequencies that are used in the theoretical model to create the similarity between the experimental and theoretical parameters.

Further works were carried out towards realising the building blocks for experimentally investigating the interactions between Rydberg atoms in ultracold atom systems. This is by setting-up a trapping system capable of producing a highly dense ultracold atom ensemble within a magneto-optical trap, cold enough to serve as a reservoir from which the optical dipole trap can be loaded efficiently. The optical dipole trap is designed and set up to achieve a micron-size trapping potential capable of producing a sub-micron sized atomic cloud, with a controllable number of atoms, where a full blockade effect can be achieved and exploited to implement a qubit system for quantum gate operations.

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