Optical non-linearity in a dynamical Rydberg gas

J D Pritchard, A Gauguet, K J Weatherill, C S Adams

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We use the technique of electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) to probe the effect of attractive dipole–dipole interactions in a highly excited Rydberg gas. The transient character of the EIT response is investigated by rapidly scanning the probe laser through resonance. We characterize the resulting cooperative optical non-linearity as a function of probe strength, density and scan direction. For the 58D5/2 Rydberg state, an atom density of 1.6 × 1010cm−3 and a positive frequency scan we measure a third-order non-linearity of χ(3) = 5 × 10−7 m2V−2. For the reverse scan we observe a second order non-linearity of χ(2) = 5 × 10−6 mV−1. The contrasting behaviour can be explained in terms of motional effects and resonant excitation of Rydberg pairs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number184019
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2011


  • atom density
  • dipole–dipole interactions
  • electromagnetically induced transparency
  • motional effects
  • non-linearity
  • optical nonlinearity
  • positive frequencies
  • probe laser
  • resonant excitation
  • Rydberg
  • Rydberg gas
  • scan direction
  • second orders
  • third-order non-linearity
  • diagnostic radiography
  • probes
  • quantum optics
  • Rydberg states

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