Complex-potential model of collisions of laser-cooled atoms

Paul S. Julienne, Kalle Antti Suominen, Yehuda Band

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


We apply a fully-quantum-mechanical complex-potential model to calculate the S matrix to test the validity of semiclassical methods for describing collisions of ground and excited laser-cooled Cs, Na, or Li atoms in a magneto-optical trap (MOT). The model includes the role of bound-state resonances in closed channels when the collision energy is smaller than the detuning from the atomic cooling transition. The model also illustrates the factorization of the S matrix into inner and outer parts, as used in simpler semiclassical theories. Our fully quantum results agree with other calculations that demonstrate much smaller rate coefficients for Cs collisions at low temperature than predicted by a semiclassical optical-Bloch-equation treatment. We show that an even simpler semiclassical Landau-Zener model accurately describes the S matrix at MOT temperatures and below for a weak laser intensity. There is no evidence for any significant contribution from the off-resonant excitation that is prominent in local-equilibrium models. The effect of excited-state spontaneous decay during the collision is much less for the light species Li than for the heavy species Cs. Semiclassical models still work well for Li.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3890-3896
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review A
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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