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Lifetimes of ultralong-range Rydberg molecules in vibrational ground and excited states

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  • Bjoern Butscher, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Vera Bendkowsky, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Johannes Nipper, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Jonathan B. Balewski, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Ludmila Kukota, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Robert Loew, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Tilman Pfau, Stuttgart University
  • ,
  • Weibin Li
  • ,
  • Thomas Pohl
  • Jan-Michael Rost

Since their first experimental observation, ultralong-range Rydberg molecules consisting of a highly excited Rydberg atom and a ground state atom [1, 2] have attracted the interest in the field of ultracold chemistry [3, 4]. Especially the intriguing properties such as size, polarizability and type of binding they inherit from the Rydberg atom are of interest. An open question in the field is the reduced lifetime of the molecules compared to the corresponding atomic Rydberg states [2]. In this paper we present an experimental study on the lifetimes of the (3)Sigma (5s - 35s) molecule in its vibrational ground state and in an excited state. We show that the lifetimes depend on the density of ground state atoms and that this can be described in the frame of a classical scattering between the molecules and ground state atoms. We also find that the excited molecular state has an even more reduced lifetime compared to the ground state which can be attributed to an inward penetration of the bound atomic pair due to imperfect quantum reflection that takes place in the special shape of the molecular potential [5].

Original languageEnglish
Article number184004
JournalJournal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

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