A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 5: The Age of Molecules

In our last post, we saw how the potential of atoms had been pushed to an incredible limit by the work of Commins and his group at Berkeley. Now, the 21st century had arrived, and technology was ready to start utilizing the power of molecules, which are nature’s built-in mini-laboratories for the electron. Nature’s Small … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 5: The Age of Molecules”

A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 4: The Ultimate Atomic Beam Experiment

Eugene Commins was one of the most influential atomic physicists of the latter half of the 20th century, not just through his experimental results, which were first-rate (including being one of the first to observe atomic parity violation), but most especially through his legacy of mentorship and teaching. His group at UC Berkeley produced a … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 4: The Ultimate Atomic Beam Experiment”

A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 3: How My Small College Measured the Electron’s Shape

When we left off last time, we were in the middle of a drought: over two decades of no improvement in the upper limit of the electron EDM from that found by the last of the cesium beam experiments in 1968: This was not a bad number at all. In fact, using the classical electron … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 3: How My Small College Measured the Electron’s Shape”

A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 2: The First “Golden Age”

Last week, we talked about how the pioneering papers in the 1950s and 60s of Purcell, Ramsey, and Sandars started off the decades-long search for imperfection in the electron’s shape, or the electron electric dipole moment (eEDM). This week, we’re going to cover some of the early beam experiments dedicated to measuring the electron EDM. … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 2: The First “Golden Age””

A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 1: Origins

As I’ve shared in a series of blog posts, I currently work on an experiment measuring the electric dipole moment (or EDM) of the electron. Colloquially, we like to call it the “shape” of the electron. (To be a little bit more accurate, it’s really the shape of the electric field produced by the electron.) … Continue reading “A Brief History of the Electron’s Shape – Part 1: Origins”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Symmetries in Physics

In this series so far, we’ve discussed a lot about the physics of the ACME EDM experiment: the atomic physics methods we use to look for a small asymmetry in the electron’s charge distribution. However, we’ve never tackled the big question directly: why does the electron’s charge distribution matter at all? The precision achieved on the … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Symmetries in Physics”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Differential Measurements to the Extreme

In our overview of the ACME experiment, we outlined the broad method of the experiment: we measure the deformation in the shape of the electron by performing spin precession on the molecule ThO. In the post about atomic structure, we outlined the basics of energy levels in a molecule, as well as that of ThO itself. … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Differential Measurements to the Extreme”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Atomic Structure

In the first two general articles I wrote about the ACME EDM experiment, I outlined the basic goal of the experiment (to measure the electron electric dipole moment) and the broad principle of how we accomplish that (by performing a spin precession measurement on a molecule in an electric field). Here, I will get into … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: Atomic Structure”

Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: A Simple Overview

In the first introductory post of this series I outlined the immense precision of the ACME experiment in measuring the electron’s “shape.” A natural followup question is, how did we do that? In this post I will outline the basic measurement scheme in our experiment in the most general way possible, avoiding most of the technical … Continue reading “Guide to the ACME EDM Experiment: A Simple Overview”

Introducing the ACME EDM Experiment

It’s been almost two months since I last updated this blog, and the reason is because I’ve been utterly busy with both my courses and all the research going on in my experiment. As you may have read on my biography page, I am a physics Ph.D. student in the Gabrielse group at Harvard University, … Continue reading “Introducing the ACME EDM Experiment”