Julian Robertz
Werner Aeschbach
Niclas Mandaric

Argon Trap Trace Analysis

  • Age dating of environmental systems via 39Ar
  • Applied Quantum Technology
  • Ultrasensitive detection method using quantum optics

Argon Trap Trace Analysis, ArTTA, is a quantum optical measurement method. The ultra-high sensitivity is achieved by counting single atoms using laser cooling techniques such as a magneto-optical trap. With this high precision the tracer age of the rare isotope 39Ar is determined and used for research in environmental physics, especially water systems. The atmospheric concentration of 1:8.1*10-16 (this roughly equals the ratio of the area of a 1€ coin to the area of Germany) makes it inaccessible to conventional methods.

The focus of the ArTTA group lies on the further development and the application of the method. This involves gaining a fundamental understanding of the underlying quantum physics as well as the experimental implementation. In the next years the understanding of the generation of metastable atoms and further improvements of the laser cooling efficiency will be part of our research.

With our measured concentration being compared with a known atmospheric sample, the 39Ar tracer age can be calculated via the radioactive decay law with a half-life time of 269 years. The results give insights into the age of alpine glacier ice, ground, ocean, or lake water within a range of 50 to 1000 years. This enables gaining important information about the dynamics of these systems. Therefore, the ArTTA project at the Heidelberg University is a cooperation of the group of Markus Oberthaler from the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics and Werner Aeschbach from the Institute for Environmental Physics.

Are you interested in joining?

We are dating single atoms. Your new passion could start with:

  • Romance  with deep quantum mechanical principles
  • Application on atoms using lasers and vacuum setups
  • Development of applied quantum technology
  • Optimization and usage of the ArTTA measurement technique
  • Work within a young, open minded and solution-oriented Team ?

→ Then don’t hesitate to contact us to be soon dating your first atom. Best via: mailto:atta@matterwave.de

The Team

Pirmin Adam
Phone: +49 6221 54 5185
Room: 02.314 

Yannis Arck
Phone: +49 6221 54 5174
Room: 02.317 

Emmy Hieronimus
Phone: +49 6221 54 5174
Room: 02.317 

Alexander Junkermann
Phone: +49 6221 54 5174 (office)
Room: 02.317 Office 

Leonardo Reiter
Phone: +49 17697832877
Room: 02.317 

David Wachs
Phone: +49 6221 54 5174
Room: 02.317 


The ArTTA project is a joint project with the research group HydroTraP of Werner Aeschbach at the Institute of Environmental Physics in Heidelberg.

Project specific collaborations

  • Novel Dating of Alpine Glaciers by 39Ar-ATTA (ArTTA-ICE)
    • Pascal Bohleber
      Ca' Foscari University of Venice
    • Andrea Fischer
      Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Istitut für Interdisziplinäre Gebirgsforschung
    • Martin Stocker-Waldhuber
      Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Istitut für Interdisziplinäre Gebirgsforschung
  • Survey of the arctic ocean
  • Large-scale investigation of ocean circulation
  • Oman groundwater study: Investigation of low temperature peridotite alteration