Search for the Electron EDM using Cs and Rb in 1D Optical Lattice Traps

Project: Research project

Project Details


An experiment will be pursued to search for the electric dipole moment(EDM) of the electron using cold Cs and Rb atoms. The atom processing and apparatus construction part of experiment will be completed and data collection will commence. Specifically, atoms will be loaded into a pair of parallel 1D far-off-resonant optical lattice traps in a magnetically shielded region of space, laser-cooled and optically pumped. Their EDMs will be measured by observing their coherent evolution in electric fields that are directed oppositely in the two traps. It is projected that the experiment will be sensitive to an EDM as small as 3x10^-30 e-cm, which is a 500-fold improvement over the current limit. This project is potentially transformative, because if an electric dipole moment were discovered this would have a profound affect on our understanding of the laws of physics at the most fundamental level. The work will also push the limits of sensitivity of measurements of the electron EDM using a novel new technique based on trapping atoms in a optical lattice.

A particle with a permanent EDM implies that both time-reversal invariance and parity invariance are violated. Both of these symmetries are in fact violated in the Standard Model of particle physics, which predicts very small, but non-zero EDMs for fundamental particles. Proposed extensions to the Standard Model tend to predict much larger EDMs, close to the current experimental upper limit. Continued non-observation of EDMs would rule out many posssible extensions to the Standard Model. Conversely, should an EDM be observed in the next several years, it would be the first experimental result of any kind that cannot be incorporated into the Standard Model. This experiment addresses a question of fundamental importance to elementary particle physics. Such questions are normally addressed with high energy experiments, but in this case, the precision tools of atomic physics can be applied to a much lower energy system, with a concomitant lower cost. In addition to these scientific broader impacts, this work has an important educational component as undergraduates and graduate students will be trained in the use of forefront research techniques.

Effective start/end date5/1/104/30/14


  • National Science Foundation: $477,000.00


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