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Journal Article

Quantum Zeno Suppression of Intramolecular Forces


Wüster,  Sebastian
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Wüster, S. (2017). Quantum Zeno Suppression of Intramolecular Forces. Physical Review Letters, 119(1): 013001. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.013001.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002D-CE9F-8
We show that Born-Oppenheimer surfaces can intrinsically decohere, implying loss of coherence among constituent electronic basis states. We consider the example of interatomic forces due to resonant dipole-dipole interactions within a dimer of highly excited Rydberg atoms, embedded in an ultracold gas. These forces rely on a coherent superposition of two-atom electronic states, which is destroyed by continuous monitoring of the dimer state through a detection scheme utilizing the background gas atoms. We show that this intrinsic decoherence of the molecular energy surface can gradually deteriorate a repulsive dimer state, causing a mixing of attractive and repulsive character. For sufficiently strong decoherence, a Zeno-like effect causes a complete cessation of interatomic forces. We finally show how short decohering pulses can controllably redistribute population between the different molecular energy surfaces.