Department of Physics & Astronomy
University of New Mexico

Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Radioactive atoms and molecules for precision measurements

Presented by Prof. Andrew Jayich (UC Santa Barbara)

The bottom row of the periodic table is known for its radioactive elements, which compared to stable isotopes are little-explored. Many heavy radioisotopes have exotic nuclei with features, such as octupole deformations, that grant them enhanced discovery potential. Laser cooling and ion trapping allow for efficient use and precise measurements of radioisotopes. In this context, our recent work with laser-cooled radium ions will be discussed. This heavy species is promising for controlling heavy molecules at the level of single quantum states and studying them with high precision spectroscopy. With trapped radium ions we have produced a number of radioactive molecules which are candidates for setting limits time symmetry violation (TSV) in nuclei. We'll discuss our work towards a TSV measurement to address two problems: the Universe's matter-antimatter imbalance (baryogenesis) and the absence of charge conjugation and parity (CP) violation in strong interactions (the strong CP problem). Constraining TSV in nuclei and nucleons is intriguing, as such an experiment is sensitive to physics that addresses both problems through underlying hadronic interactions. Radium is also promising for its use in an optical clock. The atom's high mass makes it less sensitive to leading systematic uncertainties. The wavelengths needed for radium clock operation are in relatively photonic technology friendly parts of the spectrum, making it appealing to consider radium for realizing a robust and compact optical clock. With a radium ion clock we can address an interesting question: do atoms age?

3:30 pm, Friday, November 3, 2023


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