We characterize the two-photon excitation of an ultracold gas of Rubidium atoms to Rydberg states analysing the induced atomic losses from an optical dipole trap. Extending the duration of the Rydberg excitation to several ms, the ground state atoms are continuously coupled to the formed positively charged plasma. In this regime we measure the $n$-dependence of the blockade effect and we characterise the interaction of the excited states and the ground state with the plasma. We also investigate the influence of the quasi-electrostatic trapping potential on the system, confirming the validity of the ponderomotive model for states with $20\leq n\leq 120$.
|Journal||Physical Review A - Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 23 Aug 2012|