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.
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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