Measurement of the atomic Na(3P) lifetime and of retardation in the interaction between two atoms bound in a molecule
Division, PHYS A-167, National Institute of Standards and Technology,
Gaithersburg, MD 20899 USA
Accepted: 20 May 1996
From molecular spectroscopy of the purely long-range state we determine the lifetime and measure the predicted but previously unobserved effect of retardation in the interaction between two atoms. Our lifetime helps to remove a longstanding discrepancy between experiment and theory. Electron cloud overlap is unimportant in the state () and the spectrum is calculated, ab initio, from atomic properties. By measuring the binding energies the 120 MHz correction due to retardation of the resonant-dipole R-3 interaction is confirmed.
PACS: 32.70.Fw – Absolute and relative intensities / 32.80.Pj – Optical cooling of atoms; trapping / 34.20.Cf – Interatomic potentials and forces
© EDP Sciences, 1996