Conventional (electronic) Rydberg atoms and molecules have an electron occupying a high-n orbital, and have exaggerated properties compared to more familiar atomic and molecular states. Each atom or molecule comprises a two-body system experiencing a predominately Coulombic potential, on which we can superimpose fields in the laboratory of a type and magnitude we desire. "Heavy Rydberg systems" correspond to replacing the highly excited electron by a negatively charged ion, thereby creating a system with similar dimensions and binding energy, but much slower rate of evolution. This increased timescale allows us to more easily control this system, and provides a new insight into the behavior of molecules with very high internal energies.
This talk will give a general introduction to heavy Rydberg systems, and provide a discussion of some past and planned experiments, though which we will understand in more detail the interactions behind their formation. In order to precisely control atoms and molecules using laser light, we have recently developed new optical tools based on programmable microcontrollers: easily programmed and readily modified devices that we have used to stabilize lasers, determine laser wavelengths, and image laser modes. Results from these developments will be discussed.