Lecture 15: Few-Level Systems in Periodic Fields

Magnetic resonance

Dressed state picture

RWA in two-level systems

Rabi oscillations

Spin ½ in a static field along Z plus a rotating magnetic field in X-Y plane

gyromagnetic ratio


The time-dependent Schrodinger equation describing magnetic resonance

a time-dependent Hamiltonian

Introducing the dressed-state picture:
We call this new representation as a dressed-state picture (or the first state is dressed by one photon)

from previous slide: transforming this to equations for

continued on the next slide

In the matrix form, the new set of equations in the dressed state picture then become diagonal term lifted by

But this is simply a Schrodinger equation associated with a time-independent Hamiltonian !

So, by working with a dress-state picture, a time-dependent magnetic-resonance model Hamiltonian is transformed to a time-independent Hamiltonian! For a rotating frequency ω, the effective energy of the first state is lifted by , hence dressed by one photon!

Eigen-energy of the dressed-state effective time-independent Hamiltonian is determined by



Finding the time-dependence of the wavefunction: Initial state at t = 0:

Final state at t:

the completeness of the two eigenstates

continued on the next slide

Amplitude on state 2 is hence given by

This can be reduced to

resonance curve

A is the oscillation amplitude


The resonance peak will reveal


nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) laboratories

In reality, is not just an applied static field. It should be the sum of the applied field plus a local effective field (“chemical shifts”).
Information of can then reveal the true chemical environment

Switching from two-level magnetic-resonance systems to two-level systems interacting with laser fields…

Recall our RWA approximation used previously in time-dependent perturbation theory:

1st term

2nd term

We argued: in near-resonance cases, namely, we could do the following RWA: If


Consider now a two-level system subject to a near-resonance laser field, (assuming state 2 has higher energy than state 1)
2 1


dressed-state picture:

Hence under RWA, this two-level optics problem is equivalent to that of the magnetic resonance problem !

Such an RWA treatment of a two-level-plus-laser-field problem was realized by Rabi long ago. In particular: If on-resonance:

To see clearly, assume a real


is called Rabi frequency, describing how fast the population is going back and forth between the two levels. (excitation, and then stimulated emission)

Rabi Oscillations Observed in atom-cavity systems (by this year’s Nobel Laureate S. Haroche’s group in 1996)

Extending to multi-level systems: A three-level example

Stokes field
pump field making RWA

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

continued on the next slide

continuing the previous slide:

Now introducing the dress-state picture:

State 1 is dressed by one pump-field photon (on resonance with 12) State 3 is dressed by “minus” one Stokers-field photon (on resonance with 23)

So in this dressed state picture, level 1 is lifted and level 3 is pushed down, resulting three effective levels with exactly the same energy due to the on-resonance conditions.

This is indeed the case. Mathematically, we have

dressed-state picture

(if on-resonance)

Now time-independent Hamiltonian !

Concluding remarks:

Tools such as RWA and dressed-state picture are very standard and important in today’s quantum optics, quantum information, as well cold-atom research communities. We will appreciate more about this in two weeks.

Dressed-state picture, RWA etc can be extended to other systems, such as three-level systems, four-level systems. We will return to these systems when we discuss adiabatic approximations.

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