Francium sources and traps for fundamental interaction studies

The European Physical Journal Special Topics (Impact Factor: 1.76). 10/2007; 150(1):389-392. DOI: 10.1140/epjst/e2007-00355-8

ABSTRACT Francium is one of the best candidates for atomic parity
nonconservation (APNC) and for the search of permanent electric
dipole moments (EDMs). APNC measurements test the weak force
between electrons and nucleons at very low momentum transfers. They
also represent a unique way to detect weak nucleon-nucleon
interactions. EDMs are instead related to the time-reversal
symmetry. Preliminary to these fundamental measurements are
precision studies in atomic spectroscopy and the development of
magneto-optical traps (MOT), which partially compensate for the lack
of stable Fr isotopes. At LNL Legnaro, francium is produced by
fusion of 100-MeV 18O with 197Au in a thick target,
followed by evaporation of neutrons from the compound nucleus.
Francium diffuses inside the hot target (1200 K) and is surface
ionized for injection at 3 keV in an electrostatic beamline.
Typically, we produce 1×106(210Fr ions)/s for a
primary flux of 1.5×1012particles/s. We have studied
Fr yields as a function of primary beam energy, intensity, and
target temperature. Information on the efficiency of bulk
diffusion, surface desorption and ionization is deduced. The beam
then enters a Dryfilm-coated cell, where it is neutralized on a
heated yttrium plate. The escape time of neutral Fr (diffusion +
desorption) is approximately 20 s at 950 K, as measured with a
dedicated setup. In the MOT, we use 6 orthogonal Ti:sapphire laser
beams for the main pumping transition and 6 beams from a stabilized
diode repumper. Fluorescence from trapped atoms is observed with a
cooled CCD camera, in order to reach noise levels from stray
light equivalent to approximately 50 atoms. Systematic tests are
being done to improve the trapping efficiency. We plan to further
develop Fr traps at LNL; in parallel, we will study APNC and EDM
techniques and systematics with stable alkalis at Pisa, Siena, and

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