Our team in Munich has just published a new paper on characteristics of the 229th Nuclear isomer.
The first nuclear excited state in 229Th possesses the lowest excitation energy of all currently known nuclear levels. The energy difference between the ground- and first-excited (isomeric) state (denoted with 229mTh) amounts only to ≈8.2 eV (≈151.2 nm), which results in several interesting consequences: Since the excitation energy is in the same energy range as the binding energy of valence electrons, the lifetime of 229mTh is strongly influenced by the electronic structure of the Th atom or ion. Furthermore, it is possible to potentially excite the isomeric state in 229Th with laser radiation, which led to the proposal of a nuclear clock that could be used to search for new physics beyond the standard model. In this article, we will focus on recent technical developments in our group that will help to better understand the decay mechanisms of 229mTh, focusing primarily on measuring the radiative lifetime of the isomeric state.