Fundamental symmetries studies with cold trapped francium atoms at ISAC


Francium combines a heavy nucleus (Z = 87) with the simple atomic structure of alkalis and is a very promising candidate for precision tests of fundamental symmetries such as atomic parity non-conservation measurements. Fr has no stable isotopes, and the ISAC radioactive beam facility at TRIUMF, equipped with an actinide target, promises to provide record quantities of Fr atoms, up to 1010/s for some isotopes. We discuss our plans for a Fr on-line laser trapping facility at ISAC and experiments with samples of cold Fr atoms. We outline our plans for a measurement of the nuclear anapole moment – a parity non-conserving, time-reversal conserving moment that arises from weak interactions between nucleons – in a chain of Fr isotopes. Its measurement is a unique probe for neutral weak interactions inside the nucleus.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Bouchiat, M.A., Bouchiat, C.: Parity violation induced by weak neutral currents in atomic physics. J. Phys (Paris) 35, 899 (1974)

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Wood, C.S., Bennett, S.C., Cho, D., Masterson, B.P., Roberts, J.L., Tanner, C.E., Wieman, C.E.: Measurement of parity nonconservation and an anapole moment in cesium. Science 275, 1759 (1997)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Vetter, P.A., Meekhof, D.M., Majumder, P.K., Lamoreaux, S.K., Fortson, E.N.: Precise test of electroweak theory from a new measurement of parity nonconservation in atomic thallium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 74, 2658 (1995)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Macpherson, M.J.D., Zetie, K.P., Warrington, R.B., Stacey, D.N., Hoare, J.P.: Precise measurement of parity nonconserving optical rotation at 876 nm in atomic bismuth. Phys. Rev. Lett. 67, 2784 (1991)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Guéna, J., Chauvat, D., Jacquier, P., Jahier, E., Lintz, M., Sanguinetti, S., Wasan, A., Bouchiat, M.A., Papoyan, A.V., Sarkisyan, D.: New manifestation of atomic parity violation in cesium: a chiral optical gain induced by linearly polarized 6S − − 7S excitation. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90, 143001 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Wood, C.S., Bennett, S.C., Roberts, J.L., Cho, D., Wieman, C.E.: The measurement of parity nonconservation in atomic cesium is discussed in full detail; a major portion of this paper describes the characterization and elimination of systematic errors. Can. J. Phys. 77, 7 (1999)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Fortson, E.N., Pang, Y., Wilets, L.: Nuclear-structure effects in atomic parity nonconservation. Phys. Rev. Lett. 65, 2857 (1990)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Pollock, J., Fortson, E.N., Wilets, L.: Atomic parity nonconservation: electroweak parameters and nuclear structure. Phys. Rev. C 46, 2587 (1992)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Bouchiat, M.-A., Bouchiat, C.: Parity violation in atoms. Rep. Prog. Phys. 60, 1351 (1997)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Simsarian, J.E., Orozco, L.A., Sprouse, G.D., Zhao, W.Z.: Lifetime measurement of the 7p levels of francium. Phys. Rev. A 57, 2448 (1998)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Metcalf, H.J., van der Straten, P.: Laser Cooling and Trapping. Springer, New York (1999)

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Sprouse, G.D., Orozco, L.A.: Laser trapping of radioactive atoms. Annu. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 47, 429 (1997)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Scielzo, N.D., Freedman, S.J., Fujikawa, B.K., Vetter, P.A.: Measurement of the βν correlation using magneto-optically Trapped 21Na. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 102501 (2004) 93, 102501 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Gorelov, A., Melconian, D., Alford, W.P., Ashery, D., Ball, G., Behr, J.A., Bricault, P.G., D’Auria, J.M., Deutsch, J., Dilling, J., Dombsky, M., Dubt’e, P., Fingler, J., Giesen, U., Glück, F., Gu, S., Häusser, O., Jackson, K.P., Jennings, B.K., Pearson, M.R., Stocki, T.J., Swanson, T.B., Trinczek, M.: Scalar interaction limits from the βν correlation of trapped radioactive atoms. Phys. Rev. Lett. 94, 142501 (2005)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Crane, S.G., Brice, S.J., Goldschmidt, A., Guckert, R., Hime, A., Kitten, J.J., Vieira, D.J., Zhao, X.: Parity violation observed in the beta decay of magnetically trapped 82Rb atoms. Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 2967 (2001)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Perey, M.: Sur un élément 87, dériveé de l’actinium. C.R. Acad. Sci. 208, 97 (1939)

    MATH  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Liberman, S., Pinard, J., Duong, H.T., Juncar, P., Vialle, J.-L., Jacquinot, P., Huber, G., Touchard, F., Büttgenbach, S., Pesnelle, A., Thibault, C., Klapisch, R., The ISOLDE Collaboration: First evidence of an optical transition in francium atoms. C.R. Acad. Sci. B 286, 253 (1978)

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Simsarian, J.E., Ghosh, A., Gwinner, G., Orozco, L.A., Sprouse, G.D., Voytas, P.A.: Magneto-optic trapping of 210Fr. Phys. Rev. Lett. 76, 3522 (1996)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Lu, Z.-T., Corwin, K.L., Vogel, K.R., Wieman, C.E., Dinneen, T.P., Maddi, J., Gould, H.: Efficient collection of 221Fr into a vapor cell magneto-optical trap. Phys. Rev. Lett. 79, 994 (1997)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Atutov, S.N., Biancalana, V., Burchianti, A., Calabrese, R., Corradi, L., Dainelli, A., Guidi, V., Khanbekyan, A., Mai, B., Marinelli, C., Mariotti, E., Moi, L., Sanguinetti, S., Stancari, G., Tomassetti, L., Veronesi, S.: Production and trapping of francium atoms. Nuc. Phys. A 746, 421 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Gomez, E., Orozco, L.A., Sprouse, G.D.: Spectroscopy with trapped francium: advances and perspectives for weak interaction studies. Rep. Prog. Phys. 69, 79 (2006)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Sapirstein, J.: Theoretical methods for the relativistic atomic many-body problem. Rev. Mod. Phys. 70, 55 (1998)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Ginges, J.S.M., Flambaum, V.V.: Violations of fundamental symmetries in atoms and tests of unification theories of elementary particles. Phys. Rep. 397, 63 (2004)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  24. 24.

    Aubin, S., Gomez, E., Orozco, L.A., Sprouse, G.D.: High efficiency magneto-optical trap for unstable isotopes. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 74, 4342 (2003)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Kulin, S., Aubin, S., Christe, S., Peker, B., Rolston, S.L., Orozco, L.A.: J. Opt. B: A single hollow-beam optical trap for cold atoms. Quantum Semiclass. Opt. 3, 353 (2001)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Gomez, E., Aubin, S., Sprouse, G.D., Orozco, L.A., DeMille, D.P.: Measurement method for the nuclear anapole moment of laser-trapped alkali-metal atoms. Phys. Rev. A 75, 033418 (2007)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Haxton, W.C., Wieman, C.E.: Atomic parity nonconservation and nuclear anapole moments. Annu. Rev. Nucl. Part. Sci. 51, 261 (2001)

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  28. 28.

    Khriplovich, I.B.: Parity non-conservation in atomic phenomena. Gordon and Breach, New York (1991)

    Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Orozco, L.A.: Trapped particles and fundamental physics. In: Les Houches 2000. Atutov, S.N., Calabrese, R., Moi, L. (eds.). Kluwer, Amsterdam (2002)

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Precision tests of the standard electroweak model. In: Langacker, P. (ed.). World Scientific, Singapore (1995)

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to G. Gwinner.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Gwinner, G., Gomez, E., Orozco, L.A. et al. Fundamental symmetries studies with cold trapped francium atoms at ISAC. Hyperfine Interact 172, 45–51 (2006).

Download citation


  • Weak interaction
  • Francium
  • Anapole


  • 32.80.Ys
  • 24.80.+y