Scientists from the PTB and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK), both Germany, have carried out pioneering optical measurements of highly charged ions with unprecedented precision.
To do this, they isolated a single Ar13 + ion from an extremely hot plasma and brought it practically to rest inside an ion trap together with a laser-cooled, singly charged ion. Employing quantum logic spectroscopy on the ion pair, they have increased the relative precision by a factor of a hundred million over previous methods.
For basic research, the great variety of these new, tailored quantum sensors enables a promising investigation of fundamental questions: Is our standard model of particle physics complete? What is dark matter? Are fundamental constants really constant?
The study is reported in Nature.