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An “excellent” new technique for studying Superheavy elements



Superheavy Elements

Laser resonance chromatography is initially used to examine Lawrencium, element 103. Credit: Mustapha Laatiaoui

Combining methodologies from physics and chemistry for optical spectroscopy of superheavy elements.

Superheavy elements are fascinating nuclear and atomic quantum systems that attack experimental probes because they do not occur in nature and, when synthesized, disappear within seconds. The shift in leading research in atomic physics toward these elements requires a breakthrough toward techniques of extreme atomic spectroscopy with extreme sensitivity. Joint efforts under the European Union̵

7;s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program led by Dr. Mustapha Laatiaoui of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) culminated in the design of optical spectroscopy: So-called laser resonance chromatography (LRC) should allow such an examination even in a minimal amount of production. The proposal was recently published in two articles in 2007 Physical examination letters and Physical examination.

Superheavy elements (SHE) are located at the bottom of the periodic table of elements. They provide fertile ground for the development of an understanding of how such exotic atoms can exist, and function when a crushing amount of electrons in atomic shells and protons and neutrons in the nucleus come together. Information about their electronic structure can be obtained from optical spectroscopy experiments, which revealed emission spectra specific to individual elements. These spectra are powerful reference values ​​for the calculations of modern atomic models and could be useful, for example, in finding traces of even heavier elements that could form in neutron star fusions.

The LRC approach combines different methods

Although SHEs were discovered decades ago, their examination using optical spectroscopy instruments is far beyond synthesis. This is because they are produced at extremely low prices, at which traditional methods simply do not work. Until now, optical spectroscopy ends at nobelium, element 102 in the periodic table. “Current techniques are at the limit of what is possible,” Laatiaoui explained. From the next heavier element, the physicochemical properties suddenly change and prevent the provision of samples at the appropriate atomic states. ‘ “

Laser resonance chromatography

Laser resonance chromatography is based on optical excitations of ions and subsequent detection of their arrival on the detector. Credit: Mustapha Laatiaoui

Therefore, the physicist, together with his research colleagues, has developed a new LRC approach in optical spectroscopy. It combines element selectivity and spectral accuracy of laser spectroscopy with ion mobility mass spectrometry and combines the benefits of high sensitivity with the “simplicity” of an optical probe as in laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy. Its main idea is to detect the products of resonant optical excitations not on the basis of fluorescent light as usual, but on the basis of their characteristic drift time to the particle detector.

In their theoretical work, scientists focused on the particularly charged legislator, element 103, and its lighter chemical homologue. However, this concept offers a unique approach to laser spectroscopy of many other monoatomic ions in the periodic table, especially transition metals, including high temperature refractory metals and outlaw elements. Other ionic species, such as a triple-charged thorium, must be close to the LRC approach. In addition, the method makes it possible to optimize signal-to-noise ratios, thus facilitating ion mobility spectrometry, state-selected ionic chemistry and other applications.

Dr. Mustapha Laatiaoui came to Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM) in February 2018. At the end of 2018, he received a European Research Council (ERC) grant, one of the European Union’s most valuable funding grants, for research into the most difficult elements using laser spectroscopy. and ion mobility spectroscopy. Current publications include work previously carried out by Laatiaoui at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt and at KU Leuven in Belgium.

References:

“Laser resonance chromatography of superheavy elements” by Mustaph Laatiaoui, Alexei A. Buchachenko and Larry A. Viehland, 10 July 2020, Physical examination letters.
DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.125.023002

“Using transport properties to detect optical pumping in heavy ions” Mustapha Laatiaoui, Alexei A. Buchachenko and Larry A. Viehland, 10 July 2020, Physical examination.
DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevA.102.013106

This work was done in collaboration with Alexei A. Buchachenko of the Institute of Science and Technology in Skolkov and the Institute of Chemical Physics Problems in Moscow, Russia, and Larry A. Viehland of Chatham University in Pittsburgh, USA.




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