Coherent control of electronic and vibrational wave packets using phase-locked optical pulses
Experimental and theoretical work is presented on the control of wave packet dynamics in atomic and molecular systems. Using sequences of phase-locked optical pulses, the link between optical phase and quantum mechanical phase is explored in the Na atom and Naj dimer, representing a step towards the logical engineering of quantum states in more complicated systems. A novel apparatus, constructed to study and control the vibrational dynamics of vibrational wave packets on the Na ionic potential surface, is described in chapter 3. Theoretical simulations for proposed experiment are presented in chapter 4. Control is achieved by exploiting the phase-evolution of the constituent vibrational quantum states within the wave packet superposition. The phase relationship and the accumulated phase difference between the various components of the wave packet is determined, and a sequence of phase-locked optical pulses is employed to selectively enhance or depopulate specific vibrational states, or sets of vibrational states. The quantum state composition of the resulting wave packet, and the efficiency of the control scheme, is determined by calculating the multi-pulse response of the time-dependent vibrational state populations. In chapter 5, the quantum interference between Rydberg electron wave packets in the Na atom is investigated using pairs of phase-locked wave packets, allowing manipulation of the total orbital angular momentum of Na Rydberg atoms. Initially the wave packet is composed of a superposition of s and d Rydberg series. Exploitation of the difference between the quantum defects of the two series allows specific angular momentum compositions within the resultant wave packet to be engineered. Experimentally, this final quantum state distribution is analysed in the frequency domain using state selective field ionisation, and in the time domain using the optical Ramsey method. The theoretical calculations show how the phase difference between pairs of optical pulses is linked to the corresponding Rydberg frequency spectrum, therefore enabling the control of the quantum state composition of the wave packets.