Atoms in Strong Fields
This book collects the lectures given at the NATO Advanced Study Institute on "Atoms in Strong Fields", which took place on the island of Kos, Greece, during the two weeks of October 9-21,1988. The designation "strong field" applies here to an external electromagnetic field that is sufficiently strong to cause highly nonlinear alterations in atomic or molecular struc ture and dynamics. The specific topics treated in this volume fall into two general cater gories, which are those for which strong field effects can be studied in detail in terrestrial laboratories: the dynamics of excited states in static or quasi-static electric and magnetic fields; and the interaction of atoms and molecules with intense laser radiation. In both areas there exist promising opportunities for research of a fundamental nature. An electric field of even a few volts per centimeter can be very strong on the atom ic scale, if it acts upon a weakly bound state. The study of Rydberg states with high reso lution laser spectroscopic techniques has made it possible to follow the transition from weak-field to strong-field behavior in remarkable detail, using static fields of modest lab oratory strength; in the course of this transition the atomic system evolves from one which can be thoroughly understood in terms of field-free quantum numbers, to one which cannot be meaningfully associated at all with the zero-field states of the atom.