An Introduction to Rydberg Atoms
If a single valence electron of any atom is promoted to a state of high principal quantum number n, the electron experiences an essentially Coulombic potential and behaves in many respects like a highly excited electron in hydrogen. An atom in such a state is known as a Rydberg atom. How this title originated does not seem to be known, but presumably the term is associated with the fact that the spectra of many “singleelectron” atoms are accurately described by Rydberg’s hydrogen-like formula. (Sometimes the term “highly excited atom” is used, though this term is more properly applied to atoms in core-excited states whose energies are vastly higher than those of Rydberg atoms.) How large n must be for an atom to qualify as a Rydberg atom is vague, but a reasonable working definition is n > 10.
KeywordsAtomic Beam Rydberg State Rydberg Atom Field Ionization Quantum Defect
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