Observation of Rydberg-Atom Macrodimers: Micrometer-Sized Diatomic Molecules

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Heiner Saßmannshausen and Johannes Deiglmayr


Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 083401

Long-range metastable molecules consisting of two cesium atoms in high Rydberg states have been observed in an ultracold gas. A sequential three-photon two-color photoassociation scheme is employed to form these molecules in states, which correlate to np(n+1)s dissociation asymptotes. Spectral signatures of bound molecular states are clearly resolved at the positions of avoided crossings between long-range van der Waals potential curves. The experimental results are in agreement with simulations based on a detailed model of the long-range multipole-multipole interactions of Rydberg-atom pair states. We show that a full model is required to accurately predict the occurrence of bound Rydberg macrodimers. The macrodimers are distinguished from repulsive molecular states by their behavior with respect to spontaneous ionization and possible decay channels are discussed.