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Ultrastable optical, XUV and soft-x-ray clock transitions in open-shell highly charged ions
preprintposted on 2023-05-18, 16:02 authored by Chunhai Lyu, Christoph H. Keitel, Zoltán Harman
Highly charged ions (HCIs) are insensitive to external perturbations and are attractive for the development of ultrastable clocks. However, only a few HCI candidates are known to provide optical clock transitions. In this Letter, we show that, as a result of strong relativistic effects, there are more than 100 suitable optical HCI clock candidates in more than 70 elements. Their transitions are embedded in the fine-structure splitting of the $nd^4$, $nd^5$ and $nd^6$ ground-state configurations with $n=3,4,5$ being the principal quantum numbers. The corresponding high multipolarity transitions in these ions have lifetimes and quality factors many orders of magnitude longer and larger, respectively, than those in state-of-the-art clocks. Their polarizabilities are also orders of magnitude smaller, rendering them more stable against external electromagnetic fields. Furthermore, within the same electronic configurations, the clock transitions in heavy ions scale up to the XUV and soft-x-ray region, thus enable the development of clocks based on shorter wavelengths. The existence of multiple clock transitions in different charge states of a single element, as well as in a whole isoelectronic sequence, would significantly enrich the detection of fine-structure constant variations, the search for new physics and the test of nuclear theories via high-precision spectroscopy.