Excitation of a Schrödinger Cat State Within an Atom

Michael W. Noel, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. and C. R. Stroud, Jr., Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.

Experiments in a number of laboratories over the past few years have explored the classical limit of a single atom. In this limit, the electron wave function takes on the form of a spatially localized wave packet moving with the classical orbital period around a classical Keplerian orbit of near macroscopic dimensions. In various experiments the diameter of this orbit ranges from approximately 100 to 100,000 nm. The behavior of the atom, even in this limit, is quite rich, displaying a range of classical as well as distinctly quantum features.

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