Combining methodologies of physics and chemistry for optical spectroscopy of superheavy elements.
Superheavy elements are intriguing nuclear and atomic quantum systems that cause experimental probing because they do not occur in nature and, when synthesized, disappear within seconds. The displacement of previous research in atomic physics to these elements requires a breakthrough in the direction of rapid atomic spectroscopy techniques with extreme sensitivity. The joint effort within the European Union̵
Overweight 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 huge number of electrons in the atomic shells and protons and neutrons in the nucleus come together. Insights into their electronic structure can be obtained from optical spectroscopy experiments revealing element-specific emission spectra. These spectra are powerful criteria for modern calculations of the atomic model and could be useful, for example, when it comes to looking for traces of even heavier elements that could be created in neutron star fusion events.
The LRC approach combines different methods
Although SHEs were discovered decades ago, their study with optical spectroscopic instruments is far behind synthesis. This is because they are produced at an extremely low rate, at which traditional methods simply do not work. For now, optical spectroscopy ends in Nobelium, element 102 in the periodic table. “Current techniques are on the verge of possible,” Laatiaui explained. From the next heavier element, the physicochemical properties change dramatically and make it difficult to provide samples in appropriate atomic states. “
Together with his research colleagues, the physicist developed the new LRC approach in optical spectroscopy. This combines elemental selectivity and spectral precision of laser spectroscopy with ionic mobility mass spectrometry and combines the benefits of high sensitivity with the “simplicity” of optical drilling, as in laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy. His 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 deflection time to the particle detector.
In their theoretical work, the researchers focused on the single-charged Lawrencium, element 103, and on its lighter chemical homologue. But the concept offers unprecedented access to laser spectroscopy of many other monoatomic ions through the periodic table, particularly transition metals, including high-temperature refractory metals and elements beyond Lawrencium. Other ionic species such as triple-charged thorium should also be within the scope of the LRC approach. In addition, the method makes it possible to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio and thus facilitate ion-mobile spectrometry, state-selected ionic chemistry and other applications.
Dr. Mustafa Latiawi came to the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz and the Helmholtz Mainz Institute (HIM) in February 2018. At the end of 2018, he received an ERC consolidator grant from the European Research Council (ERC), one of the most valuable grants to fund the European Union, for its research on the heaviest elements using laser spectroscopy and ion mobile spectroscopy. The present publications also include work which Laatiaoui has previously carried out at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt and at KU Leuven in Belgium.
“Laser resonance chromatography of superheavy elements” by Mustafa Laatiawi, Alexei A. Buchachenko and Larry A. Wieland, July 10, 2020, Physical examination letters,,
DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevLett.125.023002
“Using transport properties to detect optical pumping in heavy ions” by Mustafa Laatiawi, Alexei A. Buchachenko and Larry A. Wieland, July 10, 2020, Physical examination A,,
DOI: 10.1103 / PhysRevA.102.013106
This work was conducted in collaboration with Alexei A. Buchachenko of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and the Institute of Chemical Physics, both in Moscow and Russia, and with Larry A. Wichland of the University of Chatham, Pittsburgh, USA.