Testing spatial α-variation with optical atomic clocks based on highly charged ions
School of Physics, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia
We review recent works illustrating the potential use of highly charged ions as the basis of optical atomic clocks of exceptional accuracy and very high sensitivity to variation of the fine structure constant, α. The tendency towards large transition energies in highly charged ions can be overcome using level crossings, which allow transitions between different orbitals to be within the range of usual lasers. We present simple scaling laws that demonstrate reduced systematics that could be realised in highly charged ion clocks. Such clocks could allow us to corroborate astronomical studies that suggest a spatial gradient in values of α across the Universe.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2013
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.