Adriana’s theory group just published two new papers, both of which might have a significant impact on experiments building on the Th-229 isomer.
The first paper is a study on a new optomechanical system, which interfaces optical fields and X-rays via an optical cavity. In short, one mirror of an optical cavity is formed by a micro-cantilever, which bears a layer of Th-229 nuclei. These can be excited by X-rays, which impart momentum to the cantilever and change its quantum state, thereby changing the cavity field: a coupling between the optical and X-ray regime! The paper had already been around on the arXiv and has now been published with Sci. Rep., please find the paper here.
The second paper is of purely theoretical nature and a collaboration with Nikolay Minkov from Sofia, Bulgaria. It discusses a new approach to model the lowest nuclear states in Th-229 and arrives at M1 and E2 transition rates between the isomer and the ground state that are markedly different (substantially smaller) compared to all previous models. Among other explanations (strong IC, isomer energy larger than expected, …), such a small coupling could potentially explain why the optical excitation and de-excitation of the isomer was not observed in past experiments. This work has been accepted for publication with Phys. Rev. Lett. and is already available on the arXiv now.
Congratulations to Adriana and her team!