Michael W. Noel: Research Interests

Ultracold Rydberg Atoms

Michael W. Noel
Department of Physics
Bryn Mawr College

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Current research focuses on an experimental study of ultracold samples of highly excited atoms.  The impact of these experiments is quite broad, with connections to condensed matter physics of spin glasses and crystals; low temperature atomic, molecular, and optical physics involving many body interactions; and low temperature plasma physics.  Specifically, we study the properties of a novel type of "designer solid" consisting of a sample of ultracold Rydberg atoms that are strongly coupled by dipole-dipole interactions.  Rydberg atoms have one highly excited electron, giving them exaggerated properties such as extreme sensitivity to electric fields and large polarizabilities. Recent studies of amorphous samples have investigated the nature of the resonant energy transfer among the atoms forming a strongly coupled spin glass. This energy transfer can occur over a very long range and involves complicated many body interactions.  These "solids" differ from typical solids in that the spacing between atoms is quite large yet the couplings remain strong because of the exaggerated properties of the Rydberg atoms.  We will manipulate the energy transfer in this designer solid by controlling the atomic sample using optical lattices, inhomogeneous fields, and localized Rydberg excitations to form a novel type of strongly coupled spin crystal.  We will also investigate the potential for using this strongly coupled spin system to produce the entanglement necessary for quantum computations.

Funding for this research is provided by The National Science Foundation ( Collaborative Research:  Coherent Control of Interactions among Ultracold Rydberg Atoms , #1205895)

Research Group

Rachel Feynman, undergraduate student
    Summer Project:  Dipole-dipole interactions between rubidium Rydberg atoms

Donald Fahey, graduate student

Vince Gregoric, graduate student


Alexandra Friant, summer 2012
    Summer Project:  Stark mapping of rubidium atoms

Xilei Kuang, summer 2012
    Summer Project:  Stark mapping of rubidium atoms

Genevieve Gish Allouche, A.B. May 2012
    Senior Thesis:  External cavity diode laser system to examine excited rubidium Rydberg states

Emily Altiere, A.B. May 2010 with honors
    Senior Thesis:  A new MOT using coated windows for the excitation of a single Rydberg atom

Bonnie Schmittberger, A.B. May 2010 with honors
    Senior Thesis:  A New Laser System for the Excitation of Rydberg States in Rb

Laura Popa, A.B. May 2009 with honors, Elizabeth S. Shippen Scholarship in Science 2008, Gertrude Slaughter Fellowship 2009
    Senior Thesis:  Excitation of Cold Rydberg Atoms in a New Magneto-Optical Trap

Rohini Kamal, A.B. May 2008 with honors
    Senior Thesis: Exciting Rydberg States of Rubidium Atoms

Laura Gudorf, A.B. May 2008
    Summer Research Project:  Excitation of Potassium with a Blue Diode Laser

Thomas Carroll, PhD May 2006,
    Thesis: Controllable Rydberg Atom Interactions in a Magneto-Optical Trap

Rebecca Pouy, A.B. May 2006
    Senior Thesis:  Construction of a dye laser for excitation of trapped rubidium

Mary Lyon, A.B. May 2006 with honors
    Senior Thesis: Far off Resonance Trapping

Aditi Vashist, summer 2005
    Summer Project:  Far off Resonance Trapping

Maeve O’Hara, summer 2005
    Summer Project: Interactive Demonstrations for the Ball of Physics

Cordelia Ochis, summer 2005
    Summer Project:  Dipole-Dipole Interactions in a Reduced Dimensionality Frozen Rydberg Gas

Charles Collett, summer 2005
    Summer Project: Far off Resonance Trapping

Sebastian Mankowski, B.A. May 2005 at Haverford College,
    Senior Thesis:  Construction of a magneto-optical trap

Shubha Sunder, A.B. May 2005 with honors, Marshall Fellow
    Senior Thesis: Many-Body Effects in a Frozen Rydberg Gas

Ahmed Rashed, M.S. May 2004,
    Thesis: Generating Half-Cycle Electrical Pulses with Infrared Light

Michael Lim, Postdoctoral Researcher September 2002 – July 2003,
    Michael is now an assistant professor at Rowan University

Flora Shepherd, summer 2003
    Summer Project:  Development of a physics outreach program, Ball of Physics

Mary Kutteruf, A.B. May 2003, Marshall Fellow
    Senior Thesis: Exciting Lithium Atoms to Rydberg states

Ekua Anane-Fenin, summer 2002
    Summer Research Project: Computer Interfacing for Data Acquisition and Control

Anne Goodsell, A.B. May 2002 with honors, Marshall Fellow,
    Senior Thesis: Atom Trapping – Stable Operation and Trap Characterization

Ellen Kruger, A.B. May 2002
    Senior Thesis: Construction of a Diode Laser for Far-Off Resonance Trapping

Katharine Claringbould, A.B. May 2001 with honors
    Senior Thesis: Construction of a Magneto-optical Trap for Laser Cooling and Trapping