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Nonequilibrium phase transition in a dilute Rydberg Ensemble

Carr, C.; Ritter, R.; Wade, C.; Adams, C.S.; Weatherill, K.J.

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C. Carr

R. Ritter

C. Wade

C.S. Adams


We demonstrate a nonequilibrium phase transition in a dilute thermal atomic gas. The phase transition, between states of low and high Rydberg occupancy, is induced by resonant dipole-dipole interactions between Rydberg atoms. The gas can be considered as dilute as the atoms are separated by distances much greater than the wavelength of the optical transitions used to excite them. In the frequency domain, we observe a mean-field shift of the Rydberg state which results in intrinsic optical bistability above a critical Rydberg number density. In the time domain, we observe critical slowing down where the recovery time to system perturbations diverges with critical exponent α=-0.53±0.10. The atomic emission spectrum of the phase with high Rydberg occupancy provides evidence for a superradiant cascade.


Carr, C., Ritter, R., Wade, C., Adams, C., & Weatherill, K. (2013). Nonequilibrium phase transition in a dilute Rydberg Ensemble. Physical Review Letters, 111(11), Article 113901.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2013
Deposit Date Aug 27, 2013
Publicly Available Date Oct 15, 2013
Journal Physical Review Letters
Print ISSN 0031-9007
Electronic ISSN 1079-7114
Publisher American Physical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 111
Issue 11
Article Number 113901


Published Journal Article (1.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2013 American Physical Society

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