The quantum electrodynamic (QED) description of light-and-matter interaction is one of the most fundamental theories of physics and has been shown to be in excellent agreement with experimental results. Specifically, measurements of the electronic magnetic moment (or g factor) of highly charged ions (HCI) in Penning traps can provide a stringent probe for QED, testing the Standard model in the strongest electromagnetic fields. When studying the difference of isotopes, even the intricate effects stemming from the nucleus can be resolved and tested as, due to the identical electron configuration, many common QED contributions do not have to be considered. Experimentally however, this becomes quickly limited, particularly by the precision of the ion masses or the achievable magnetic field stability. Here we report on a novel measurement technique that overcomes both of these limitations by co-trapping two HCIs in a Penning trap and measuring the difference of their g factors directly. The resulting correlation of magnetic field fluctuations leads to drastically higher precision. We use a dual Ramsey-type measurement scheme with the ions locked on a common magnetron orbit, separated by only a few hundred micrometres, to extract the coherent spin precession frequency difference. We have measured the isotopic shift of the bound electron g factor of the neon isotopes of 20Ne9+ and 22Ne9+ to 0.56 parts-per-trillion (5.61013) precision relative to their g factors, which is an improvement of more than two orders of magnitude compared to state-of-the-art techniques. This resolves the QED contribution to the nuclear recoil for the very first time and accurately validates the corresponding theory. Furthermore, the agreement with theory allows setting constraints for a fifth-force, resulting from Higgs-portal-type dark-matter interactions.

T. Sailer, V. Debierre, Z. Harman, F. Heiße, C.König, J. Morgner, B. Tu, A. V. Volotka, C. H. Keitel, K. Blaum, S. Sturm, “Direct Bound-Electron g factor Difference Measurement with Coupled Ions”, arXiv:2204.12182 (2022).


Related to Project B01, B02