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Title: Charge transfer processes of atomic hydrogen Rydberg states near surfaces
Author: Dethlefsen, Mark Georg Bernhard
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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When approaching a metal surface, the electronic structure of Rydberg atoms or molecules is perturbed by the surface potential and at close enough distances resonant ionisation of the Rydberg electron into the conduction band of the surface can occur. It is possible to interfere in this process and steer the ionisation distance by making use of the polarisability of the Rydberg orbital in the presence of electric fields. The resulting ions from the surface can extracted via electric fields and subsequently detected via well established ion detection schemes. The question of how this charge-transfer process is affected by different properties of the surface (both electronic and structural) represents the main aspect of the work presented in this thesis. At first, the charge transfer of atomic hydrogen Rydberg atoms with a flat gold metal surface is investigated. While such a surface might appear homogeneous, stray fields are present in its vicinity due to local variations in the surface work function. The surface ionisation process as a function of applied electric field is therefore measured experimentally and the results are compared with classical Monte-Carlo simulations (which include stray field effects). This way the possibility to utilize Rydberg states as a probe of the magnitude of such stray fields is demonstrated. To investigate the effect the surface structure can have on the ionisation process, the interaction of Rydberg atoms with surfaces covered by nanoparticles is investigated. Surface ionisation is measured at a 5 nm nanoparticle monolayer surface and it is shown that population transfer between surface- and vacuum-oriented Rydberg states occurs. In addition, results are presented, which suggest a dependence of the ionisation process on the relative size of Rydberg orbital and nanoparticle. Furthermore, charge transfer between a Rydberg state and discrete electronic states at the surface vacuum interface are investigated by performing experiments with a Cu(100) band-gap semiconductor surface. By analysing surface ionisation as a function of collisional velocity ionisation rates can be determined and are subsequently compared with theoretical predictions. The potential of identifying resonant ionisation is thereby demonstrated. Last, a new method to produce 2s atomic hydrogen via mixing of the 2s and 2p state in an electric field is proposed and first experimental results are presented, thus demonstrating viability of the idea. The experiments presented in this thesis represent the most in depth analysis of the charge-transfer process between atomic hydrogen Rydberg states and a range of different surfaces to date. As such, they demonstrate the potential of utilizing the unique properties of Rydberg states and their applicability as surface probes. In addition, these results pave the way for further experiments involving thin films or the phenomenon of quantum reflectivity.
Supervisor: Softley, Tim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Chemistry & allied sciences ; Laser Spectroscopy ; Physical & theoretical chemistry ; Surface analysis ; Atomic and laser physics ; Surface nanoscience ; Rydberg ; charge-transfer ; atomic hydrogen ; surface interaction ; nanoparticles ; molecular beam