Tests of Theory in Rydberg States of One-electron Ions
Joseph N. Tan, Peter J. Mohr
Comparison of optical frequency measurements to predictions of quantum electrodynamics (QED) for Rydberg states of one-electron ions can test theory and allow new determinations of constants of nature to be made. Simplifications in the QED theory of high-angular-momentum states reduces the uncertainty in the prediction of transition frequencies to a level where a new value of the Rydberg constant which is independent of the proton radius can be determined. Since the energy-level spacing between neighboring Rydberg states grows as the square of the nuclear charge number, it is possible to study transitions with optical frequencies that are accessible to femtosecond laser frequency combs. Recently at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), highly-charged ions (including bare nuclei)created in an Electron Beam Ion Trap (EBIT) were extracted and captured in a novel compact Penning trap. An ongoing experiment aims to produce one-electron ions isolated in an ion trap designed for laser spectroscopy. Tests of theory in a regime free of nuclear effects would be valuable in shedding light on the puzzle surrounding the large discrepancy in the value of the proton radius inferred from the observed Lamb shift in muonic hydrogen as compared to the value deduced from hydrogen and deuterium spectroscopy and electron scattering measurements.
Precision Spectroscopy in Ion Traps for Fundamental Physics