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High Resolution γ-Ray Spectroscopy: the First 85 Years



R Deslattes


This opening review attempts to follow the main trends in crystal diffraction spectrometry of nuclear γ-rays from its 1914 beginning in Rutherford's laboratory to the ultra-high resolution instrumentation realized in the current generation of spectrometers at the ILL. My perspective is that of an instrumentalist hoping to convey a sense of of our intellectual debt to a number of predecessors, each of whom realized a certain elegance in making the tools that have enabled much good science, including that to which the remainder of this workshop is dedicated. This overview follows some of the main ideas along a trajectory toward higher resolution at higher energies, thereby enabling not only the disentanglement of more dense spectra, but also allowing detailed study of aspects of spectral profiles sensitive to excited state lifetimes and interatomic potentials. The parallel evolution toward increasing efficiency while preserving needed resolution is also an interesting story of artful compromise that should not be neglected. Finally, it is the robustness of the measurement chain connecting γ-ray wavelengths with optical wavelengths associated with the Rydberg constant that only recently has allowed γ-ray data to contiribute to determination of particle masses and fundamental constants, as will be described in more detail in other papers from this workshop.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) -
105 No. 1


crystal diffraction, gamma-ray spectra, instrumentation, precision measurement


Deslattes, R. (2000), High Resolution γ-Ray Spectroscopy: the First 85 Years, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created January 1, 2000, Updated February 17, 2017