Physics at Virginia

Tom Gallagher

Ph.D., 1971, Harvard
Professor Emeritus

Experimental Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

Research Interests

Highly excited, or Rydberg, atoms interact strongly with external perturbations, providing Prof. Gallagher´s group with opportunities to quantitatively explore otherwise inaccessible phenomena. They are studying the interaction of Rydberg atoms with microwave fields which have frequencies comparable to the Kepler orbital frequency of the electron, a regime in which many phenomena exhibit both classical and quantum behavior. They are examining the properties of relatively high density samples of cold Rydberg atoms using a magneto optical trap. These samples can behave as disordered solids or, under only slightly different conditions, evolve into an ultracold plasma. Understanding these fascinating systems provides many challenges. Finally, Prof. Gallagher´s group is studying autoionization and its inverse, recombination, in atoms with two optically active electrons. The effects of external perturbations, such as fields, on the energy transfer between electrons is being examined.

Selected Publications

H. Park, P. J. Tanner, B. J. Claessens, E. S. Shuman, and T. F. Gallagher, "Dipole-dipole broadening of Rb ns-np microwave transitions," Physical Review A 84, 022704 (2011).

H. Park, E. S. Shuman, and T. F. Gallagher, "Ionization of Rb Rydberg atoms in the attractive nsnp dipole-dipole potential," Physical Review A 84, 052708 (2011).

H. Maeda, J. H. Gurian, and T. F. Gallagher, "Population transfer in the Na s-p Rydberg ladder by a chirped microwave pulse," Physical Review A 84, 063421 (2011).

News Items

Three pre-eminent researchers – Thomas F. Gallagher, Patrice G. Guyenet and Kodi S. Ravichandran – have been chosen to receive 2010-11 Distinguished Scientist Awards from the University of ......More >


Davisson-Germer Prize [1996]

For his seminal elucidation of the characteristics and collisional behavior of highly excited states of atoms.

APS Fellow [1980]