Event DetailsEvent Dates: Monday, February 16, 2015 - 4:00pmSeminar Location: Duane Physics Room G1B30Speaker Name(s): Thomas PohlSpeaker Affiliation(s): Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems Seminar Type/SubjectScientific Seminar Type: Physics Department ColloquiumEvent Details & Abstract: The study of highly excited atoms has a long history in AMO physics, from the early days of quantum mechanics to the more recent development of cavity-QED. Lately, the advent of ultracold gases has ushered in a renaissance of Rydberg atom physics, allowing to create, probe, manipulate and utilize extreme atomic states with unprecedented precision. In particular, the combination of ultra-low temperatures, high densities and strong atomic interactions leads to rich physical behavior with promising applications in optical and information science. In this talk, I will outline different ideas to turn laser-driven Rydberg gases into a versatile platform for exploring exotic many-body phenomena in synthetic quantum systems, resembling quantum magnets, quantum fluids or quantum solids. Emerging correlations in such settings can have a substantial back-action onto the light field that excites the atoms. The resultant intricate interplay of light-matter and atom-atom interactions gives rise to unrivaled optical nonlinearities that open the door to manipulating light at the level of single quanta. I will present our progress towards understanding photon propagation in this new regime of quantum optics, from classical nonlinearities and few-photon applications to the quantum many-body physics of light.