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How to measure nothing, really precisely: measuring the asymmetry of the electron using trapped molecular ions

Event Details

Event Dates: 

Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 2:00pm

Seminar Location: 

  • JILA X317

Speaker Name(s): 

Kevin Cossel

Speaker Affiliation(s): 

JILA, Ye group
Seminar Type/Subject

Scientific Seminar Type: 

  • JILA Thesis Defense

Event Details & Abstract: 

Molecular spectroscopy can provide insights into a wide variety of topics in both chemistry and physics. In this defense, I show how precise measurements of transitions in trapped HfF+ can be used to place constraints on the shape of the electron and thus on parity- and time-reversal symmetry violation. It is widely believed that the electron must be -- to some extent at least --asymmetric, but no experiment has yet observed an asymmetry. Improved measurements of this out-of-roundness of the electron in turn provide information about new fundamental particle at energy scales comparable to, or even higher than, those probed with the Large Hadron Collider. Along the way towards measuring the asymmetry of the electron in HfF+, we developed a variety of new techniques including a method of performing broad bandwidth spectroscopy of molecular ions using a frequency comb. Our first measurements currently constrain the electron asymmetry to less than 3x10^-27 cm, which is equivalent to 100 nm if the electron were the size of the earth.