Theory for the generation and decay of high-lying Rydberg states in beam-foil experiments is presented. Our theory is designed to check the assumption that electron capture in the foil proceeds via a direct transition from a free state. The success of the theory in explaining the observed (primary and secondary) oscillatory structure and underlying smooth background of the ionization signal, as a function of additional variable electric fields, justifies this assumption. In addition, existence of asymmetry with respect to sign change of the variable fields is predicted to be detectable at high field values. Generation of Rydberg atoms in beam-foil experiments is shown to be a sensitive probe of the state distribution prepared during the beams passage through the foil. Our theory substantiates the claim that Rydberg atoms produced in the beam-foil encounter exit the foil in a pure superposition state.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics