Strong enhancement of Penning ionization for asymmetric atom pairs in cold Rydberg gases: the Tom and Jerry effect.

D.K. Efimov, K. Miculis, N.N. Bezuglov, A. Ekers

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5 Citations (Scopus)


We consider Penning ionization of Rydberg atom pairs as an Auger-type process induced by the dipole–dipole interaction and employ semiclassical formulae for dipole transitions to calculate the autoionization width as a function of the principal quantum numbers, n d , n i , of both atoms. While for symmetric atom pairs with ${n}_{d}={n}_{i}={n}_{0}$ the well-known increase of the autoionization width with increasing n 0 is obtained, the result for asymmetric pairs is counterintuitive—for a fixed n i of the ionizing atom of the pair, the autoionization width strongly increases with decreasing n d of the de-excited atom. For H Rydberg atoms this increase reaches two orders of magnitude at the maximum of the n d dependence, and the same type of counterintuitive behavior is exhibited also by Na, Rb and Cs atoms. This is a purely quantum-mechanical effect, which points towards existence of optimal (we call them 'Tom' and 'Jerry' for 'big' and 'small') pairs of Rydberg atoms with respect to autoionization efficiency
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125302
JournalJournal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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