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Atoms 2016, 4(4), 28;

Decoherence in Excited Atoms by Low-Energy Scattering

Experimental Quantum Information Lab, E. C. Stoner Building, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: James F. Babb
Received: 13 June 2016 / Revised: 9 November 2016 / Accepted: 3 December 2016 / Published: 9 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Atomic, Molecular and Nuclear Spectroscopy and Collisions)
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We describe a new mechanism of decoherence in excited atoms as a result of thermal particles scattering by the atomic nucleus. It is based on the idea that a single scattering will produce a sudden displacement of the nucleus, which will be perceived by the electron in the atom as an instant shift in the electrostatic potential. This will leave the atom’s wave-function partially projected into lower-energy states, which will lead to decoherence of the atomic state. The decoherence is calculated to increase with the excitation of the atom, making observation of the effect easier in Rydberg atoms. We estimate the order of the decoherence for photons and massive particles scattering, analyzing several commonly presented scenarios. Our scheme can be applied to the detection of weakly-interacting particles, like those which may be the constituents of Dark Matter, the interaction of which was calculated to have a more prominent effect that the background radiation. View Full-Text
Keywords: decoherence; Rydberg atoms; dark matter; axions decoherence; Rydberg atoms; dark matter; axions

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Quiñones, D.A.; Varcoe, B. Decoherence in Excited Atoms by Low-Energy Scattering. Atoms 2016, 4, 28.

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