Trapping Neutral Mercury

Mercury - the Rosetta Stone of Physics?

Surprisingly many important experiments have been performed using Mercury. This is especially true for atomic physics. Examples are:

  • 1911: Super-conductivity (Kammerlingh-Onnes)
  • 1912: Resonance fluorescence (Wood)
  • 1912/26: Quenching of resonance fluorescence
  • 1913: Experiments by Franck and Hertz
  • 1920/27   Stepwise excitation
  • 1923: Hanle Effect
  • 1915/23: Pressure broadening
  • 1924: Collision induced reactions
  • 1950: Optical pumping (Kastler)
  • 1976: 1st EPR Experiment w/ lasers (Fry)

Therefore, besides hydrogen mercury is probably the most important element in the history of atomic physics.

Also, in modern times mercury is the basis of fascinating experiments.

Mercury as a trapping species

Mercury offers the opportunity of exciting experiments in cooling and trapping. These include

  1. Neutral Mercury as a possible new time standard
  2. Formation of ultra-cold molecules by photo-association
  3. Bose-Einstein condensation in a meta-stable state


Prof. Dr. Thomas Walther

Laser und Quantenoptik
Institut für Angewandte Physik
Fachbereich 05 - Physik
Technische Universität Darmstadt
Schlossgartenstr. 7
D-64289 Darmstadt

+49 6151 16-20831 (Sekretariat)

+49 6151 16-20834 (Fax)




Optics in our Time

Open Access Buch über den aktuellen Stand der Optik in Grundlagenforschung und Anwendungen

Im Springer Verlag ist zur Feier des "Jahr des Lichts 2015" ein Open Access Buch... weiter......
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