The Two-Photon Decay of Atomic Hydrogen and Tests of Bell’s Inequality
Ever since it was discovered that atoms have an internal structure, the theoretical and experimental study of atomic hydrogen has played a crucial role in the development of our knowledge and understanding of atomic physics and quantum mechanics. The states with principal quantum number n = 2 are and have been of special interest and importance, in particular with regard to the determination of the fine structure constant and the measurement of the Lamb shift. It is also possible that, in the future, precise measurement of the lifetime of the metastable 2 2 S 1/2 state could reveal the existence of time reversal and parity nonconserving effects due, for example, to the presence of a permanent electron dipole moment or neutral currents. It was, of course, the observation of the Lamb shift in 1947 by Lamb and Retherford(1) that, by demonstrating the nondegeneracy of the 2 2 S 1/2 and 2 2 P 1/2 states, confirmed that the 2 2 S 1/2 state would be metastable in experimentally realizable situations, and showed that it should be possible to observe the two-photon emission that is the main mode of decay of this state.
KeywordsLinear Polarizer Photon Pair Lamb Shift Coincidence Rate Fast Axis
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