In this paper, we consider the effects of strong dipole–dipole interactions on three-level interference phenomena such as coherent population trapping and electromagnetically induced transparency. Experiments are performed on laser cooled rubidium atoms and the results compared to a many-body theory based on either a reduced many-body density matrix expansion orMonte Carlo simulations of many-body rate equations. We show that these approaches permit quantitative predictions of the experimentally observed excitation and transmission spectra. Based on the calculations, we moreover predict a universal scaling of the nonlinear response of cold Rydberg gases.
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