We observe interaction-induced broadening of the two-photon 5s-18s transition in Rb87 atoms trapped in a 3D optical lattice. The measured linewidth increases by nearly 2 orders of magnitude with increasing atomic density and excitation strength, with corresponding suppression of resonant scattering and enhancement of off-resonant scattering. We attribute the increased linewidth to resonant dipole-dipole interactions of 18s atoms with blackbody induced population in nearby np states. Over a range of initial atomic densities and excitation strengths, the transition width is described by a single function of the steady-state density of Rydberg atoms, and the observed resonant excitation rate corresponds to that of a two-level system with the measured, rather than natural, linewidth. The broadening mechanism observed here is likely to have negative implications for many proposals with coherently interacting Rydberg atoms.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)