Clues to inner atomic life from subtle light-emission shifts

1 julio 2015

Hyperfine structure of light absorption by short-lived cadmium atom isotopes reveals characteristics of the nucleus that matter for high precision detection methods. Atoms absorb and emit light of various wavelengths. Physicists have long known that there are some tiny changes, or shifts, in the light that gets absorbed or emitted, due to the properties of the atomic nucleus. Now, a team of scientists has elucidated the so-called hyperfine structure of cadmium atoms. Relying on a method called laser spectroscopy, they have measured variations in the energy transition within cadmium atom – Cd in the periodic table. They studied a chain of isotopes with an odd number of neutrons ranging from 59 in 107Cd to 75 in 123Cd. From these high-precision measurements, they were able to identify the physical cause of the shift within the nucleus.