We experimentally study the full counting statistics of few-body Rydberg aggregates excited from a quasi-one-dimensional atomic gas. We measure asymmetric excitation spectra and increased second and third order statistical moments of the Rydberg number distribution, from which we determine the average aggregate size. Estimating rates for different excitation processes we conclude that the aggregates grow sequentially around an initial grain. Direct comparison with numerical simulations confirms this conclusion and reveals the presence of liquidlike spatial correlations. Our findings demonstrate the importance of dephasing in strongly correlated Rydberg gases and introduce a way to study spatial correlations in interacting many-body quantum systems without imaging.
- Received 1 August 2013
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