Trapping Neutral Mercury


Picture of our Hg magneto-optical trap taken with an UV enhanced EMCCD-Camera

We are setting up a magneto-optical trap for neutral mercury. Mercury has some features that make it interesting in these experiments: (1) It does not have fine- or hyperfine structure in the groundstate. Therefore, no repumping laser is required and trapping should be straight forward. (2) It has two meta-stable states, one of which is the lower level of a cycling transition, i.e. a magneto-optical trap can be set up to also trap mercury on that transition. The lifetimes of these two meta-stable states are fairly long. In fact they are so long that they have never been measured. Calculations show lifetimes in the order of 5 seconds


The project has the following goals: (1) Measure the lifetimes of the meta-stable
states and evaluate their potential in atomic clocks. (2) Perform photo-associative spectroscopy and determine the long-range potential energy surfaces of mercury dimer. Mercury dimer is important for the test of new methods of ab-initio calculations due to the relativistic effects and correlations present. These measurements will result in important input for these models. (3) Form ultra-cold, i.e. translationally, vibrationally and rotationally cold Hg dimers by pumping Raman transitions in the dimer.



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




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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