Interaction of Rydberg atoms with surfaces
Using surface ionisation as a probe for surface analysis
Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford, Chemistry Research Laboratory, Oxford OX1 3TA, UK
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Received: 1 February 2016
Revised: 15 July 2016
Published online: 19 December 2016
The interface of neutral Rydberg atoms in the gas phase with a solid surface is of interest in many fields of modern research. This interface poses a particular challenge for any application in which Rydberg atoms are close to a substrate but also opens up the possibility of studying properties of the surface material itself through the atomic response. In this review the focus is on the process of electron tunneling from the excited state into the substrate that occurs when a Rydberg atom is located in front of a surface at a range of a few hundred nm and is demonstrated with a metallic surface. It is shown how variations in this ionisation mechanism can provide a powerful tool to probe image-charge effects, measure small superficial electric stray or patch fields and how charge transfer from the Rydberg atom can be in resonance with energetically discrete surface states.
© The Author(s) 2016
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