Interactions of electrons and Rydberg atoms in ultra-cold plasmas
Document Type Dissertation/Thesis
This thesis discusses an experimental technique for investigating electron temperature control by Rydberg atoms in ultra-cold plasmas. The objective we set ourselves was twofold. Firstly, we sought to gain an insight into the processes whereby the creation of Rydberg atoms within the plasma lengthens the lifetime of the plasma. To this end, we created the plasma using a Littman dye laser and subsequently, at a variable time delay, we excited neutral atoms in the plasma to specific Rydberg states using a narrow bandwidth pulsed dye laser. Secondly, we employed radio-frequency (rf) electric fields to excite electron oscillations within the plasma in order to infer such information as plasma density and electron temperature. Although we found that the introduction of high angular momentum Rydberg states did lengthen the plasma lifetime we were not able to differentiate between the temperature moderation effect due to the Rydberg atoms cooling the plasma, and the binding effect due to an increased positive space charge within the plasma.