Lecture 18: Adiabatic Population Transfer in Few-Level Quantum Systems

Excuse me, there are no true few-level systems, right?

** Application of adiabatic approximation to few-level quantum systems ** Example: matter transport “without” transit: Phys. Rev. A, 2008.

Consider a three-level system similar to what we discussed before:

pump field

Stokes field making RWA

A three-level system interacting with two on-resonance laser fields

continued on the next slide

Introducing the dressed-state picture:

we then have:

oscillating terms no longer there

Using the on-resonance conditions

Because the reference point of energy levels is arbitrary, for convenience let us set

pump field

Stokes field

Effective Hamiltonian becomes

Three-level atom interacting with two on-resonance fields

To apply the adiabatic approximation, find first all the eigenstates of the effective Hamiltonian: Two nonzero eigenvalues: X

with eigenvectors:

One zero/null eigenvalue: with the eigenvector: no degenerate states! good for adiabatic approximation !

So all eigenvalues and eigenfunctions for arbitrary field parameters are found here

STRAP: Stimulated Raman Adiabatic Passage:

Counter-intuitive ordering of the pump and the Stokers field


Stokes field

pump field


Stokes field



Note: we first slowly turn on the coupling between |2> and |3> and then we slowly turn on the coupling between |1> and |2>

Basic picture of STIRAP in terms of the adiabatic approximation:

adiabatic state


= |1>


= |3>

Understanding STIRAP:


If we adiabatically turn on the two coupling fields in the counter-intuitive order, the system dressed by the field will remain on the null eigenstate. Hence, we will be able to realize a complete population transfer from state |1> to state |3>. Because what we rely on is the null eigenstate that has a node on state |2>, during the population transfer state |2> will not be populated (approximately) !!



Extensions of STIRAP to many-level systems:

Degeneracy N

N intermediate states

Initial state

Gong and Rice, Phys. Rev. A (2005).

What if the Stokes field amplitude is always much larger than the pump field amplitude?


= |1>


= |1>

What does this analysis imply?

Electromagnetically Induced Transparency (EIT):

The effect of EIT on a typical absorption line. A weak probe normally experiences absorption shown in blue. A second coupling beam induces EIT and creates a "window" in the absorption region (red). This plot is a computer simulation of EIT in an InAs/GaAs quantum dot

Matter transport in a triple-well system

Tunneling rate from well 1 to well 2 is

Tunneling rate from well 2 to well 3 is

Assuming the same on-site energy for the three wells, the Hamiltonian is

Matter Transport Without Transit (Rab et al, Physical Review A, 2008)

Adiabatically tuning the two tunneling rates, to ensure that the system stays on the null eigenstate, and to ensure that the tunneling between 2 and 3 is turned on first. Then just as in STIRAP, all matter can be transported from well 1 to well 3, without ever being in well 2 !

Matter transport without transit:
A realistic calculation taking into account the weak interactions between the cold atoms:

Movie by Rab et al, downloaded from Electronic Physics Auxiliary Publication Service of Physical Review (EPAPS), American Physical Society

Tutorial Classroom Discussion: Adiabatic behavior in a Landau-Zener process

In this Hamiltonian, ∆ describes the coupling strength between two levels, and 2γ describes the energy bias between the two levels.

Applying adiabatic approximation, find what happens if we slowly

change the bias parameter γ from
the system is or .


. The initial state of

Concluding remarks:

Physical insights based on adiabatic approximation are playing a key role in today’s two related physics research frontiers: quantum control and quantum information science.

This is largely because (i) adiabatic manipulation of quantum systems is often robust to small fluctuations in the driving field parameters and (ii) the physical picture based on the adiabatic approximation is nonperturbative and easy to understand.

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