A group-theoretical approach to study atomic motion in a laser field
S. Prants.
Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical 44 (26): 265101 (July 2011)

A group-theoretical approach is applied to study the behavior of lossless two-level atoms in a standing-wave laser field. Due to the recoil effect, the internal and external atomic degrees of freedom become coupled. The internal dynamics is described quantum mechanically in terms of the SU (2) group parameters. The evolution operator is found in an explicit way after solving a single ODE for one of the group parameters. The translational motion in a standing wave is governed by the classical Hamilton equations which are coupled to the SU (2) group equations. It is shown that the full set of equations may be chaotic in some ranges of the control parameters and initial conditions. It means physically that there are regimes of motion with chaotic center-of-mass motion and irregular internal dynamics. It is established that the chaotic regime is specified by the character of oscillations of the group parameter characterizing the mean interaction energy between the atom and the laser field. It is shown that the effect of chaotic walking can be observed in a real experiment with cold atoms crossing a standing-wave laser field.
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