Ultra-cold Plasma Physics at NIST

Scott Bergeson
Electron and Optical Physics Division Physics Laboratory

At least one new direction in the field of laser cooling and trapping is the study of highly excited ultra-cold atoms. The processes of excitation transfer, collisional ionization , and strong coupling of plasmas remain largely unexplored at temperatures near absolute zero. The few existing measurements suggest that at low temperatures these processes are significantly different than at higher temperatures. Highly excited atoms in a magneto-topical trap is a rich area in which one can study the transition from the single particle physics of Rydberg atoms to the meany-body physics of a cold plasma. Extension of the current work to an all-optical ion trap will be discussed.