Simultaneous position and state measurement of Rydberg atoms

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Reference C.S.E. van Ditzhuijzen, A.F. Koenderink, L.D. Noordam and H.B. van Linden van den Heuvell, Simultaneous position and state measurement of Rydberg atoms, Eur. Phys. J. D 40, 13-17 (2006)
Group Resonant Nanophotonics

We present a technique for state-selective position detection of cold Rydberg atoms. Ground state Rb atoms in a magneto-optical trap are excited to a Rydberg state and are subsequently ionized with a tailored electric field pulse. This pulse selectively ionizes only atoms in e.g. the 54d state and not in the 53d state. The released electrons are detected after a slow flight towards a micro channel plate. From the time of flight of the electrons the position of the atoms is deduced. The state selectivity is about 20:1 when comparing 54d with 53d and the one-dimensional position resolution ranges from 6 to 40 µm over a range of 300 µm. This state selectivity and position resolution are sufficient to allow for the observation of coherent quantum excitation transport.