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Journal Article

Trilobites, butterflies, and other exotic specimens of long-range Rydberg molecules


Eiles,  Matthew T.
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Max Planck Society;

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Eiles, M. T. (2019). Trilobites, butterflies, and other exotic specimens of long-range Rydberg molecules. Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, 52(11): 113001. doi:10.1088/1361-6455/ab19ca.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-4E47-6
This PhD tutorial discusses ultra-long-range Rydberg molecules, the exotic bound states of a Rydberg atom and one or more ground state atoms immersed in the Rydberg electron's wave function. This novel chemical bond is distinct from an ionic or covalent bond, and is accomplished by a very different mechanism: the Rydberg electron, elastically scattering off of the ground state atoms, exerts a weak attractive force sufficient to form the molecule in long-range oscillatory potential wells. In the last decade this topic has burgeoned into a vibrant and mature subfield of atomic and molecular physics following the rapidly developing capability of experiment to observe and manipulate these molecules. This tutorial focuses on three areas where this experimental progress has demanded more sophisticated theoretical descriptions: the structure of polyatomic molecules, the influence of electronic and nuclear spin, and the behavior of these molecules in external fields. The main results are a collection of potential energy curves and electronic wave functions which together describe the physics of Rydberg molecules. Additionally, to facilitate future progress in this field, this tutorial provides a general overview of the current state of experiment and theory.