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Dissipative dynamics of strongly interacting, optically driven Rydberg gases

Herwig Ott & Michael Fleischhauer


The joint experimental and theoretical project B2 studies ultracold clouds of rubidium atoms, which are optically driven to a Rydberg state. Rydberg atoms feature a very strong dipole-dipole interaction between them, which gives rise to peculiar properties: Under resonant excitation the interaction causes a suppression of further excitations within a certain distance – the so-called Rydberg blockade. Likewise, a detuned laser excitation leads to a facilitation of excitations for atoms separated by the facilitation radius – the so-called anti-blockade. Both phenomena induce spatial and temporal correlations between Rydberg atoms. As the Rydberg atoms spontaneously decay or undergo inelastic collisions, the overall dynamics is determined by the interplay between long-range interactions, coherent excitation and dissipation. As a result, a rich spectrum of open system phenomena occurs, such as dynamical crystallization, bistability or glass-like dynamics.
The project is outlined along two main objectives: (i) The identification and characterization of steady states and phase transitions in the steady state, which emerge in the system. (ii) The dynamical response of and the non-equilibrium dynamics towards the steady state.


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