An international research team, led by Dr. Olga Kocharovskaya at Texas A&M University, is working on developing a new generation of atomic clocks. Atomic clocks rely on the oscillations of electrons in an atom and are used in various industries. The team’s recent work involved exciting the scandium-45 nuclear isomer with X-ray pulses at the European XFEL X-ray laser facility, which allowed them to determine the position of the nuclear resonance with unprecedented accuracy. Scandium-45, an element used in aerospace components and sports equipment, can provide an accuracy of one second in 300 billion years. The combination of scandium-45 and ultra-bright X-ray pulses brings scientists a step closer to creating a nuclear clock that could use the oscillation of the atomic nucleus. These nuclear clocks could bring significant advancements in precision timekeeping and have applications in fields such as relativity and gravitational theory. The team plans to continue their research by determining the resonant transition energy with higher accuracy and measuring the exact lifetime of an isomer state, among other goals.

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