3 years ago

High precision hyperfine measurements in Bismuth challenge bound-state strong-field QED

High precision hyperfine measurements in Bismuth challenge bound-state strong-field QED
Matthias Lochmann, Christian Weinheimer, Wilfried Nörtershäuser, Markus Steck, Wolfgang Geithner, Michael Hammen, Bernhard Maaß, Andreas Dax, Kristian König, Rodolfo Sánchez, Johannes Ullmann, Zoran Andelkovic, Richard C. Thompson, Jonas Vollbrecht, Carsten Brandau, Johann Meisner, Christopher Geppert, Christian Gorges, Volker Hannen, Tobias Murböck, Christian Trageser, Yuri A. Litvinov, Thomas Stöhlker, Simon Kaufmann, Matthias Schmidt, Stefan Schmidt
Electrons bound in highly charged heavy ions such as hydrogen-like bismuth 209Bi82+ experience electromagnetic fields that are a million times stronger than in light atoms. Measuring the wavelength of light emitted and absorbed by these ions is therefore a sensitive testing ground for quantum electrodynamical (QED) effects and especially the electron–nucleus interaction under such extreme conditions. However, insufficient knowledge of the nuclear structure has prevented a rigorous test of strong-field QED. Here we present a measurement of the so-called specific difference between the hyperfine splittings in hydrogen-like and lithium-like bismuth 209Bi82+,80+ with a precision that is improved by more than an order of magnitude. Even though this quantity is believed to be largely insensitive to nuclear structure and therefore the most decisive test of QED in the strong magnetic field regime, we find a 7-σ discrepancy compared with the theoretical prediction.

Publisher URL: http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15484

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms15484

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