229Th the Bridge Between Nuclear and Atomic Interactions

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The precise measurement of time has been a goal of physicists for centuries. With every new increase in our ability to measure time we have discovered new phenomena. The most advanced clocks available to us currently are atomic clocks that use electronic transitions to track the passage of time. In this proposal, I put forward the framework for the first nuclear clock estimated to be 1000 to 10000 times more precise than the current atomic clocks. This research will explore in detail the atomic nuclear interactions and help perfect and refine current atomic-nuclear interaction models. The realization of a {sup ... continued below

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Burke, J T; Casperson, R J; Swanberg, E L & Thomas, D December 2, 2010.

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Description

The precise measurement of time has been a goal of physicists for centuries. With every new increase in our ability to measure time we have discovered new phenomena. The most advanced clocks available to us currently are atomic clocks that use electronic transitions to track the passage of time. In this proposal, I put forward the framework for the first nuclear clock estimated to be 1000 to 10000 times more precise than the current atomic clocks. This research will explore in detail the atomic nuclear interactions and help perfect and refine current atomic-nuclear interaction models. The realization of a {sup 229}Th nuclear clock will allow tests of cosmology by measuring the change of the fine structure constant as a function of time. The results of these experiments could dramatically alter our view of the universe, its past and future evolution. Precision clocks - with fundamental physics applications - require a long-lived quantum transition (two-level system) that is immune to external perturbations. Nuclear transitions would be better suited than atomic transitions for these applications except that nuclear transitions are typically much higher in energy and therefore cannot be accessed with table-top lasers. There is, however, one promising nuclear transition: the doublet between the ground and first excited states of the {sup 229}Th nucleus discovered by Helmer and Reich. This doublet has an energy splitting of 7.6 {+-} 0.5 eV, a spin difference of 1 h-bar, and an excited state half-life that could be as long as hours. A precision clock based on the {sup 229}Th nuclear doublet has been proposed by Peik et al. Their design is similar to the ion clock research being conducted at NIST in Boulder, CO. However, the NIST researchers use atomic transitions for their frequency standards. In the {sup 229}Th nuclear doublet transition is the frequency standard while atomic transitions are used to cool the ions and for probing the state of the {sup 229}Th nucleus. Recently, Campbell et al. have trapped and cooled {sup 232}Th{sup 3+} at Georgia Institute of Technology. This is a large step forward in the realization of a nuclear clock. The Georgia Tech group is already a collaborator on this project and we are in discussions with the NIST Boulder group about collaboration. In order to determine the suitability of the {sup 229}Th nuclear doublet for a precision clock, the half-life of the excited-state needs to be measured. Current estimates of the half-life vary from 10 {micro}s to 1000 hours. The longer the half-life, the narrower the natural linewidth of the state and the more desirable the transition is for potential applications. In this proposal, I outline the necessary research to be conducted to determine the half-life and exact wavelength of the nuclear doublet transition in {sup 229}Th. This research will lead to a deeper understanding of atomic-nuclear interactions important for our knowledge of high energy density science. It will provide a spectroscopy measurement of the lowest known nuclear transition ever and open the doorway for the development of a nuclear clock with unprecedented precision.

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PDF-file: 15 pages; size: 0.6 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: LLNL-TR-463538
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/1018435 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1018435
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc833973

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  • December 2, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 6:57 p.m.

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Burke, J T; Casperson, R J; Swanberg, E L & Thomas, D. 229Th the Bridge Between Nuclear and Atomic Interactions, report, December 2, 2010; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc833973/: accessed April 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.