Observation of Rydberg Blockade Induced by a Single Ion | Publication in PhysRevLett

Atomic giants meet single ions

Exploiting and controlling strong interactions between atomic constituents is one of the key aspects for implementing experimental quantum simulations. A prominent candidate are giant atoms, so-called Rydberg atoms, whose outermost electron is sent to large orbitals. These objects feature particular strong interactions as a result of which they cannot be created in pairs unless they keep a certain distance. This is known as the Rydberg blockade effect.

Now, an experimental IQST team at the University of Stuttgart has pushed this concept to its extreme and fully removed the electron of one of the two Rydberg atoms. For the first time, they were able to observe the interaction between the resulting single ion and the Rydberg atom. As a consequence of the strong pair-interaction, they found a qualitatively new type of blockade mechanism induced by the ion’s electric field with a blockade sphere around the ion as large as tens of micrometers. Inside this sphere, the creation of the second Rydberg atoms is fully suppressed.

The observed interaction could provide new approaches to study or even control transport dynamics of single ionic impurities through quantum matter such as a Bose-Einstein condensate.

View the publication in Physical Review Letters 

Observation of Rydberg Blockade Induced by a Single Ion
F. Engel, T. Dieterle, T. Schmid, C. Tomschitz, C. Veit, N. Zuber, R. Löw, T. Pfau, and F. Meinert Phys. Rev. Lett. 121, 193401 – Published 8 November 2018

APS has also published a Synopsis on this work