By coupling a probe transition to a Rydberg state using electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) we map the strong dipole-dipole interactions onto an optical field. We characterize the resulting cooperative optical nonlinearity as a function of probe strength and density. We demonstrate good quantitative agreement between the experiment and an N-atom cooperative model for N=3 atoms per blockade sphere and the n=60 Rydberg state. The measured linewidth of the EIT resonance places an upper limit on the dephasing rate of the blockade spheres of <110kHz.
- atom-light interaction
- Rydberg state
- electromagnetically induced transparency