Title

Arrested Relaxation in an Isolated Molecular Ultracold Plasma

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-15-2017

Abstract

Spontaneous avalanche to plasma splits the core of an ellipsoidal Rydberg gas of nitric oxide. Ambipolar expansion first quenches the electron temperature of this core plasma. Then, long-range, resonant charge transfer from ballistic ions to frozen Rydberg molecules in the wings of the ellipsoid quenches the ion-Rydberg-molecule relative velocity distribution. This sequence of steps gives rise to a remarkable mechanics of self-assembly, in which the kinetic energy of initially formed hot electrons and ions drives an observed separation of plasma volumes. These dynamics adiabatically sequester energy in a reservoir of mass transport, starting a process that anneals separating volumes to form an apparent glass of strongly coupled ions and electrons. Short-time electron spectroscopy provides experimental evidence for complete ionization. The long lifetime of this system, particularly its stability with respect to recombination and neutral dissociation, suggests that this transformation affords a robust state of arrested relaxation, far from thermal equilibrium.

Journal

Physical Review A: Covering Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics and Quantum Information

Volume

96

Issue

2

First Page

023613-1

Last Page

023613-13