Abstract:
We calculate interspecies Rydberg-Rydberg interaction strengths for the heavy alkalis Rb and Cs. The presence of strong F\"orster resonances makes interspecies coupling a promising approach for long range entanglement generation. We also provide an overview of the strongest F\"orster resonances for Rb-Rb and Cs-Cs using different principal quantum numbers for the two atoms. We show how interspecies coupling can be used for high fidelity quantum non demolition state measurements with low crosstalk in qubit arrays.

Abstract:
Applicability of Rydberg atoms to quantum computers is examined from experimental point of view. In many theoretical proposals appeared recently, excitation of atoms into highly excited Rydberg states was considered as a way to achieve quantum entanglement in cold atomic ensembles via dipole-dipole interaction that could be strong for Rydberg atoms. Appropriate conditions to realize a conditional quantum phase gate have been analyzed. We also present the results of modeling experiments on microwave spectroscopy of single- and multi-atom excitations at the one-photon 37S-37P and two-photon 37S-38S transitions in an ensemble of a few sodium Rydberg atoms. The microwave spectra were investigated for various final states of the ensemble initially prepared in its ground state. The quantum NOT operation with single atoms was found to be affected by the Doppler effect and fluctuations of the microwave field. The spectrum of full excitation of several Rydberg atoms was much narrower than that of a single atom. This effect might be useful for the high-resolution spectroscopy. The results may be also applied to the studies on collective laser excitation of ground-state atoms aiming to realize quantum gates.

Abstract:
We have developed a simple analytical model describing multi-atom signals that are measured in experiments on dipole-dipole interaction at resonant collisions of a few Rydberg atoms. It has been shown that finite efficiency of the selective field-ionization detector leads to the mixing up of the spectra of resonant collisions registered for various numbers of Rydberg atoms. The formulas which help to estimate an appropriate mean Rydberg atom number for a given detection efficiency are presented. We have found that a measurement of the relation between the amplitudes of collisional resonances observed in the one- and two-atom signals provides a straightforward determination of the absolute detection efficiency and mean Rydberg atom number. We also performed a testing experiment on resonant collisions in a small excitation volume of a sodium atomic beam. The resonances observed for 1 to 4 detected Rydberg atoms have been analyzed and compared with theory.

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:
Rates of depopulation by blackbody radiation (BBR) and effective lifetimes of alkali-metal \textit{nS}, \textit{n}P and \textit{nD} Rydberg states have been calculated in a wide range of principal quantum numbers $n \le 80$ at the ambient temperatures of 77, 300 and 600 K. Quasiclassical formulas were used to calculate the radial matrix elements of the dipole transitions from Rydberg states. Good agreement of our numerical results with the available theoretical and experimental data has been found. We have also obtained simple analytical formulas for estimates of effective lifetimes and BBR-induced depopulation rates, which well agree with the numerical data.

Abstract:
We present our results on the experiments with cold Rb Rydberg atoms in a magneto-optical trap (MOT). Characteristic features of our experiment were the excitation of Rydberg atoms in a small volume within the cold atom cloud and sorting of the measured signals and spectra over the number of registered Rydberg atoms. We have measured the effective lifetime of the Rydberg state 37P, as well as its polarizability in a weak electric field. The results are in good agreement with the theoretical calculations. We have shown that localization of the small excitation volume around the zero-magnetic-field point makes possible to increase the spectral resolution and to obtain narrow microwave resonances in Rydberg atoms without switching off the MOT quadrupole magnetic field. We have measured the dependence of the amplitude of the dipole-dipole interaction resonances on the number of Rydberg atoms, which has a linear character and agrees with the theory for weak dipole-dipole interaction.

Abstract:
Results of numerical Monte Carlo simulations for the Stark-tuned F\"orster resonance and dipole blockade between two to five cold rubidium Rydberg atoms in various spatial configurations are presented. The effects of the atoms' spatial uncertainties on the resonance amplitude and spectra are investigated. The feasibility of observing coherent Rabi-like population oscillations at a F\"orster resonance between two cold Rydberg atoms is analyzed. Spectra and the fidelity of the Rydberg dipole blockade are calculated for various experimental conditions, including nonzero detuning from the F\"orster resonance and finite laser linewidth. The results are discussed in the context of quantum-information processing with Rydberg atoms.

Abstract:
Cold atoms in highly excited Rydberg states are promising candidates to implement quantum logic gates of a quantum computer via long-range dipole-dipole interaction. Two-qubit gates require a controlled interaction of only two close Rydberg atoms. We report on the first spectroscopic observation of the resonant dipole-dipole interaction between two cold rubidium Rydberg atoms confined in a small laser excitation volume. The interaction strength was controlled by fine-tuning of the Rydberg levels into a Forster resonance using the Stark effect. The observed resonance line shapes are in good agreement with numerical Monte Carlo simulations.

Abstract:
Three-photon laser excitation of Rydberg states by three different laser beams can be arranged in a star-like geometry that simultaneously eliminates the recoil effect and Doppler broadening. Our analytical and numerical calculations for a particular laser excitation scheme 5S_{1/2}->5P_{3/2}->6S_{1/2}->nP in Rb atoms have shown that compared to the one- and two-photon laser excitation this approach provides much narrower line width and longer coherence time for both cold atom samples and hot vapors, if the intermediate one-photon resonances of the three-photon transition are detuned by more than respective single-photon Doppler widths. This method can be used to improve fidelity of Rydberg quantum gates and precision of spectroscopic measurements in Rydberg atoms.

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.