Trapping triply ionized thorium isotopes
Churchill, Layne Russell
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Cold trapped ions have many applications in quantum information science and precision metrology. In this thesis, we present progress toward two objectives involving ions confined to linear RF traps: the strong coupling of Ba+ ions with a high finesse optical cavity, and the observation of an optical nuclear transition in 229Th3+. In pursuit of the first objective, a novel high-temperture vapor cell for the spectroscopy of neutral barium was constructed. Using this vapor cell, a new technique for isotope-selective photoionization loading of Ba+ in an ion trap was developed. In pursuit of the second objective, techniques ultimately to be used in creating, trapping, and observing 229Th3+ are studied using 232Th3+. Ion traps are loaded with 232Th3+ via laser ablation of thorium targets. 232Th3+ is detected optically using laser-induced fluorescence and electronically using a channel electron multiplier. A technique for creating ablation targets from trace quantities of thorium nitrate is presented. The primary loss mechanisms of Th3+, charge exchange and chemical reactions, are studied.