Lars von der Wense, nuClock superhero of 2015, will face his PhD exam on Friday, Feb. 3. Although his chances of success appear rather small, we still wish him all the best 🙂 Good luck, Lars!
A few days ago, a new manuscript was submitted to the arXiv preprint server. It discusses a new approach to measure (or at least contrain) the Th-229 isomer energy by optically exciting Th+ or Th2+ ions into metastable electronic states, and seeking to observe internal conversion from the excited electronic state to the nucleus. Laser excitation into a suitable metastable state seems to be an intricate process, involving 4 or even 6 resonant lasers. This publication is a joint work by the MPIK Heidelberg, Jyväskylä, and TU Vienna groups, and can be found here.
The alpha decay of U-233 is a well-established approach to obtain Th-229 atoms or ions in the isomeric state. In fact, it is the only method to date that has been shown to be capable of populating the isomer. Still, the probability of feeding the isomer has not been measured. A value of 2% is often found in literature, yet retracing how this number was obtained is difficult.
We used the available U-233 decay data from the NuDat database and, based on this data, calculated a probability of at least 1.98% for the isomer population. The NuDat data was generated by estimating or assuming a set of branching ratios for gamma and internal conversion transitions. The NuDat database can therefore be used as a reference for the 2%-value, but this value is based on estimated (not measured) branching ratios.
We hope you all had a joyful holiday season. With 2017 just around the corner, nuClock wishes peace, luck, and success in 2017 to all of you: the partners, associates, fans & followers, and all your family and friends. Happy New Year!
Towards the end of each year, the editors of the “Physics World” elect ten experiments or publications that they consider to be the most important scientific breakthroughs of the past year. Although an entirely subjective choice, this “Top-10” list has gained quite some visibility over the past years. To our great delight, the direct detection of the the Th-229 isomer by the LMU Munich group was ranked third among the ten breakthroughs of 2016! Congratulations to Lars, Bene, and Peter from Munich, and to their collaborators at GSI, Mainz, and elsewhere!
This year’s number-one went to be the discovery of gravitational waves by the LIGO collaboration. The magazine “Physics World” and the corresponding webpage www.physicsworld.com are published by the British Institute of Physics (IOP), the full story can be found here.