Studies of atomic properties of francium and rubidium.

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High precision measurements of atomic properties are excellent probes for elec-

troweak interaction studies at the lowest possible energy range. The extraction of

standard model coupling constants relies on a unique combination of experimen-

tal measurements and theoretical atomic structure calculations. It is only through

stringent comparison between experimental and theoretical values of atomic prop-

erties that a successful experiment can take place. Francium, with its heavy nucleus

and alkali structure that makes it amenable to laser cooling and trapping, stands as

an ideal test bed for such studies.

Our group has successfully created, trapped and cooled several isotopes of

francium, the heaviest of the alkalies, and demonstrated that precision studies of

atomic properties, such as the measurement of the 8S1/2 excited state lifetime of

210Fr presented here, are feasible. Further work in our program of electroweak studies requires a better control of the electromagnetic environment observed by the sample

of cold atoms as well as a lower background pressure (10-10 torr or better). We have designed and adapted to our previous setup a new &ldquo science &rdquo vacuum chamber that fulfills these requirements and the transport system that will transfer the francium

atoms to the new chamber.

We use this new experimental setup as well as a rubidium glass cell to perform

precision studies of atomic and nuclear properties of rubidium. Spectroscopic studies

of the most abundant isotopes of rubidium, 87Rb and 85Rb, are a vital component in our program. Performing measurements in rubidium allows us to do extensive and rigorous searches of systematics that can be later extrapolated to francium.

We present a precision lifetime measurement of the 5D3/2 state of 87Rb and a measurement of hyperfine splittings of the 6S1/2 level of 87Rb and 85Rb. The quality of the data of the latter allows us to observe a hyperfine anomaly attributed to an isotopic difference of the magnetization distribution in the nucleus i.e. the Bohr-Weisskopf effect. The measurements we present in this work complement each other in exploring the behavior of the valence electron at different distances from the nucleus. In addition, they constitute excellent tests for the predictions of ab

initio calculations using many body perturbation theory and bolster our confidence

on the reliability of the experimental and theoretical tools needed for our work.