Journal article
Spectroscopy of short-lived radioactive molecules

Publication Details
Garcia Ruiz, R.; Berger, R.; Billowes, J.; Binnersley, C.; Bissell, M.; Breier, A.; Brinson, A.; Chrysalidis, K.; Cocolios, T.; Cooper, B.; Flanagan, K.; Giesen, T.; Groote, R.; Franchoo, S.; Gustafsson, F.; Isaev, T.; Koszorús, Á.; Neyens, G.; Perrett, H.; Ricketts, C.; Rothe, S.; Schweikhard, L.; Vernon, A.; Wendt, K.; Wienholtz, F.; Wilkins, S.; Yang, X.
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Molecular spectroscopy offers opportunities for the exploration of the fundamental laws of nature and the search for new particle physics beyond the standard model1-4. Radioactive molecules-in which one or more of the atoms possesses a radioactive nucleus-can contain heavy and deformed nuclei, offering high sensitivity for investigating parity- and time-reversal-violation effects5,6. Radium monofluoride, RaF, is of particular interest because it is predicted to have an electronic structure appropriate for laser cooling6, thus paving the way for its use in high-precision spectroscopic studies. Furthermore, the effects of symmetry-violating nuclear moments are strongly enhanced5,7-9 in molecules containing octupole-deformed radium isotopes10,11. However, the study of RaF has been impeded by the lack of stable isotopes of radium. Here we present an experimental approach to studying short-lived radioactive molecules, which allows us to measure molecules with lifetimes of just tens of milliseconds. Energetically low-lying electronic states were measured for different isotopically pure RaF molecules using collinear resonance ionisation at the ISOLDE ion-beam facility at CERN. Our results provide evidence of the existence of a suitable laser-cooling scheme for these molecules and represent a key step towards high-precision studies in these systems. Our findings will enable further studies of short-lived radioactive molecules for fundamental physics research.


Last updated on 2020-07-07 at 15:53