Trapping, laser cooling, and spectroscopy of Thorium IV
Campbell, Corey Justin
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Application of precision laser spectroscopy and optical clock technology to the ground and metastable, first excited state of the ²²⁹Th nucleus at < 10 eV has significant potential for use in optical frequency metrology and tests of variation of fundamental constants. This work is a report on the development of required technologies to realize such a nuclear optical clock with a single, trapped, laser cooled ²²⁹Th³⁺ ion. Creation, trapping, laser cooling, and precision spectroscopy are developed and refined first with the naturally occurring isotope, ²³²Th. These technologies are then extended to laser cooling and precision laser spectroscopy of the electronic structure of ²²⁹Th³⁺. An efficient optical excitation search protocol to directly observe this transition via the electron bridge is proposed. The extraordinarily small systematic clock shifts are estimated and the likely extraordinarily large sensitivity of the clock to variation of the fine structure constant is discussed.