Abstract:
We have studied an ionization of alkali-metal Rydberg atoms by blackbody radiation (BBR). The results of the theoretical calculations of ionization rates of Li, Na, K, Rb and Cs Rydberg atoms are presented. Calculations have been performed for nS, nP and nD states which are commonly used in a variety of experiments, at principal quantum numbers n=8-65 and at the three ambient temperatures of 77, 300 and 600 K. A peculiarity of our calculations is that we take into account the contributions of BBR-induced redistribution of population between Rydberg states prior to photoionization and field ionization by extraction electric field pulses. The obtained results show that these phenomena affect both the magnitude of measured ionization rates and shapes of their dependences on n. A Cooper minimum for BBR-induced transitions between bound Rydberg states of Li has been found. The calculated ionization rates are compared with our earlier measurements of BBR-induced ionization rates of Na nS and nD Rydberg states with n=8-20 at 300 K. A good agreement for all states except nS with n>15 is observed. Useful analytical formulas for quick estimation of BBR ionization rates of Rydberg atoms are presented. Application of BBR-induced ionization signal to measurements of collisional ionization rates is demonstrated.

Abstract:
The microwave ionization of internally chaotic Rydberg atoms is studied analytically and numerically. The internal chaos is induced by magnetic or static electric fields. This leads to a chaotic enhancement of microwave excitation. The dynamical localization theory gives a detailed description of the excitation process even in a regime where up to few thousands photons are required to ionize one atom. Possible laboratory experiments are also discussed.

Abstract:
We have studied the behavior of cold Rydberg atoms embedded in an ultracold plasma. We demonstrate that even deeply bound Rydberg atoms are completely ionized in such an environment, due to electron collisions. Using a fast pulse extraction of the electrons from the plasma we found that the number of excess positive charges, which is directly related to the electron temperature Te, is not strongly affected by the ionization of the Rydberg atoms. Assuming a Michie-King equilibrium distribution, in analogy with globular star cluster dynamics, we estimate Te. Without concluding on heating or cooling of the plasma by the Rydberg atoms, we discuss the range for changing the plasma temperature by adding Rydberg atoms.

Abstract:
Results of theoretical calculations of ionization rates of Rb and Na Rydberg atoms by blackbody radiation (BBR) are presented. Calculations have been performed for nS, nP and nD states of Na and Rb, which are commonly used in a variety of experiments, at principal quantum numbers n=8-65 and at three ambient temperatures of 77, 300 and 600 K. A peculiarity of our calculations is that we take into account the contributions of BBR-induced redistribution of population between Rydberg states prior to photoionization and field ionization by extraction electric field pulses. The obtained results show that these phenomena affect both the magnitude of measured ionization rates and shapes of their dependencies on n. The calculated ionization rates are compared with the results of our earlier measurements of BBR-induced ionization rates of Na nS and nD Rydberg states with n=8-20 at 300 K. A good agreement for all states except nS with n>15 is observed. We also present the useful analytical formulae for quick estimation of BBR ionization rates of Rydberg atoms.

Abstract:
A multi-dimensional semiclassical description of excitation of a Rydberg electron by half-cycle pulses is developed and applied to the study of energy- and angle-resolved ionization spectra. Characteristic novel phenomena observable in these spectra such as interference oscillations and semiclassical glory and rainbow scattering are discussed and related to the underlying classical dynamics of the Rydberg electron. Modifications to the predictions of the impulse approximation are examined that arise due to finite pulse durations.

Abstract:
We present an experimental and theoretical study of the chaotic ionization of quasi-one-dimensional potassium Rydberg wavepackets via a phase-space turnstile mechanism. Turnstiles form a general transport mechanism for numerous chaotic systems, and this study explicitly illuminates their relevance to atomic ionization. We create time-dependent Rydberg wavepackets, subject them to alternating applied electric-field "kicks", and measure the electron survival probability. Ionization depends not only on the initial electron energy, but also on the phase-space position of the electron with respect to the turnstile --- that part of the electron packet inside the turnstile ionizes after the applied ionization sequence, while that part outside the turnstile does not. The survival data thus encode information on the geometry and location of the turnstile, and are in good agreement with theoretical predictions.

Abstract:
We present analytical and numerical results for the microwave excitation of nonhydrogenic atoms in a static electric field when up to 1000 photons are required to ionize an atom. For small microwave fields, dynamical localization in photon number leads to exponentially small ionization while above quantum delocalization border ionization goes in a diffusive way. For alkali atoms in a static field the ionization border is much lower than in hydrogen due to internal chaos.

Abstract:
A fully classical explanation of the nonhydrogenic ionization threshold for low angular momentum Rydberg states of Alkali-metal atoms in a linearly polarized low frequency monochromatic microwave field is given: the classical equivalent to the quantum rate-limiting step, which is responsible for the n^(-5) scaling and which according to the literature initiates what then continues as essentially classical diffusion, is found.

Abstract:
Collisional and thermal ionization of sodium nS and nD Rydberg atoms with n=8-20 has been studied. The experiments were performed using a two-step pulsed laser excitation in an effusive atomic beam at atom density of about 2 10^{10} cm^{-3}. Molecular and atomic ions from associative, Penning, and thermal ionization processes were detected. It has been found that the atomic ions were created mainly due to photoionization of Rydberg atoms by photons of blackbody radiation at the ambient temperature of 300K. Blackbody ionization rates and effective lifetimes of Rydberg states of interest were determined. The molecular ions were found to be from associative ionization in Na(nL)+Na(3S) collisions. Rate constants of associative ionization have been measured using an original method based on relative measurements of Na_{2}^{+} and Na^{+} ion signals.

Abstract:
In this article the history and the current state of research of the chemiionization processes in atom-Rydberg atom collisions is presented. The principal assumptions of the model of such processes based on the dipole resonance mechanism, as well as the problems of stochastic ionization in atom-Rydberg atom collisions, are exposed. The properties of the collision kinetics in atom beams of various types used in contemporary experimentations are briefly described. Results of the calculation of the chemi-ionization rate coefficients are given and discussed for the range of the principal quantum number values 5 < n < 25. The role of the chemi-ionization processes in astrophysical and laboratory low-temperature plasmas, and the contemporary methods of their investigation are described. Also the directions of further research of chemi-ionization processes are discussed in this article.