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Probing interactions of thermal Sr Rydberg atoms using simultaneous optical and ion detection.

Hanley, Ryan K. and Bounds, Alistair D. and Huillery, Paul and Keegan, Niamh C. and Faoro, Riccardo and Bridge, Elizabeth M. and Weatherill, Kevin J. and Jones, Matthew P. A. (2017) 'Probing interactions of thermal Sr Rydberg atoms using simultaneous optical and ion detection.', Journal of physics B : atomic, molecular and optical physics., 50 (11). p. 115002.


We demonstrate a method for probing interaction effects in a thermal beam of strontium atoms using simultaneous measurements of Rydberg EIT and spontaneously created ions or electrons. We present a Doppler-averaged optical Bloch equation model that reproduces the optical signals and allows us to connect the optical coherences and the populations. We use this to determine that the spontaneous ionization process in our system occurs due to collisions between Rydberg and ground state atoms in the EIT regime. We measure the cross section of this process to be $0.6\pm 0.2\,\,{\sigma }_{\mathrm{geo}}$, where ${\sigma }_{\mathrm{geo}}$ is the geometrical cross section of the Rydberg atom. This result adds complementary insight to a range of recent studies of interacting thermal Rydberg ensembles.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article published in Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at
Date accepted:21 April 2017
Date deposited:12 May 2017
Date of first online publication:10 May 2017
Date first made open access:14 June 2018

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