ERC Synergy Grant Awarded for the project 'ThoriumNuclearClock'
Research cooperation on Nuclear Clock receives EU funding
All presently known atomic clocks rely on the excitation of the atoms's electronic shell by microwaves or lasers. Will it be possible to apply the methods developed in this framework to the resonant excitation of an atomic nucleus with laser light ?
For answering this question the researchers PD Dr. P.G. Thirolf (LMU Munich), Prof. T. Schumm (TU Wien, project coordinator), PD Dr. E. Peik (PTB), Prof. M. Safronova (Univ. Delaware, USA) receive a project funding by the 'Synergy' program of the European Research Council ERC amounting to ca. 13.8 million Euro over 6 years (with about 5.8 million EUR going into the research projects proposed by the LMU team of PD Dr. Thirolf). Additionally involved in the project are researchers from the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg (PD Dr. A. Palffy) and from the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen (Dr. J. Weitenberg).
The Synergy program is the highest endowed research funding instrument of the ERC and focuses on topics with innovation potential, requiring cooperation between different disciplines, like here atomic, nuclear, laser and theoretical physics.
Amongst the goals of the project range new insights into the structure of the thorium-229, a novel type of highly precise clock and, due to the specific capabilities of the nuclear clock, potentially also an access to open fundamental questions like the search for temporal variations of fundamental constants or dark matter candidates by precisely comparing different types of clocks.