Charge States of Thorium-229m: Path to Finding the Half-Life
Wakeling, Molly A.
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After conducting my experiment, I was able to determine that the thorium-229 nuclei were indeed positively charged, which means that the isomers should decay to the ground state by bound internal conversion, emitting light in the process. By observing the emitted light, we should be able to measure the half-life of the isomer, which is the next step. After the half-life is observed, a nuclear clock can be built, and when compared with the atomic clock, we will know whether the fine structure constant is, indeed, a constant. Knowing the half-life of thorium-229m will also allow scientists to probe relationships between electrons and their nuclei, an area of physics that is typically difficult to do because of the large differences in energy between electrons and nuclei. This research could potentially open up an area of physics that is not well understood, and could also eventually show whether some fundamental constants are indeed constant.