Semiclassical approach to atomic decoherence by gravitational waves

D. A. Quinones, B. T.H. Varcoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new heuristic model of interaction of an atomic system with a gravitational wave (GW) is proposed. In it, the GW alters the local electromagnetic field of the atomic nucleus, as perceived by the electron, changing the state of the system. The spectral decomposition of the wave function is calculated, from which the energy is obtained. The results suggest a shift in the difference of the atomic energy levels, which will induce a small detuning to a resonant transition. The detuning increases with the quantum numbers of the levels, making the effect more prominent for Rydberg states. We performed calculations on the Rabi oscillations of atomic transitions, estimating how they would vary as a result of the proposed effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025005
JournalJournal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
Issue number2
Early online date1 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2018


  • decoherence
  • gravitational background
  • gravitational waves
  • quantum superposition
  • Rabi oscillations
  • Rydberg atoms
  • transition detuning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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