The quMercury project

Quantum gases for a measurement of the atomic EDM of mercury

The Universe contains substantially more matter than antimatter. What is the reason for this imbalance, why does Nature favor matter over antimatter?

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Simon Stellmer / University of Bonn

This is one of the most challenging problems in fundamental physics, and we are taking a new approach to tackle this problem. The matter/antimatter imbalance is connected to a quantity named electric dipole moment (EDM): a small deformation of the charge distribution of fundamental particles. The current best measurements of this EDM have been performed with gases of mercury atoms at room temperature.

Now, we will take this experiment to the quantum world: we will prepare quantum-degenerate Fermi gases of mercury as the basis of our measurements, which shall improve measurement sensitivity by two orders of magnitude. Ultracold samples of mercury have not yet been studied, so the preparation of Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs) and Degenerate Fermi Gases is the first step along this road. These systems can also be employed as platforms for novel schemes of quantum simulation and hold the potential to improve the world’s best optical clocks. All of the cooling transitions in mercury are in the UV range 185 and 254 nm), where quite a bit of development in laser technology will be required.

Welcome to the challenge of setting up one of the world’s leading experiments for quantum simulations and EDM measurements! 


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