In this work, we discuss the resonance states of a quantum particle in a periodic potential plus static force. Originally this problem was formulated for a crystalline electron subject to the static electric field and is known nowadays as the Wannier-Stark problem. We describe a novel approach to the Wannier-Stark problem developed in recent years. This approach allows to compute the complex energy spectrum of a Wannier-Stark system as the poles of a rigorously constructed scattering matrix and, in this sense, solves the Wannier-Stark problem without any approximation. The suggested method is very efficient from the numerical point of view and has proven to be a powerful analytic tool for Wannier-Stark resonances appearing in different physical systems like optical or semiconductor superlattices.
The paper studies the effect of a weak periodic driving on metastable Wannier-Stark states. The decay rate of the ground Wannier-Stark states as a continuous function of the driving frequency is calculated numerically. The theoretical results are compared with experimental data of Wilkinson et at. [Phys.Rev.Lett.76, 4512 (1996)] obtained for cold sodium atoms in an accelerated optical lattice.