Nov. 1, 2023
Continued success for German-Japanese collaboration on high-precision measurements
Following a successful review, the Max Planck / RIKEN / PTB – Center for Time, Constants and Fundamental Symmetries (TCFS)—a successful collaboration between RIKEN and several German institutes—will enter its second term, beginning in January 2024. The center is dedicated to developing the most sensitive instruments ever for making fundamental measurements in atomic and nuclear physics, antimatter and dark matter research, quantum optics, and metrology. RIKEN and the German partners—the Max Planck Society and the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB)–will fund the center in equal amounts.
Under the collaboration, the teams will continue to tackle forefront topics in precision measurements of time, constants of nature and tests of symmetries in order to find answers to some of the most fundamental questions in physics today. One of these questions is the mystery of the lack of antimatter in our universe, which indicates a subtle difference between matter and antimatter that strongly contradicts our present understanding of the creation of the universe. Another question involves the possibility of small changes in fundamental physical constants over time.
One of the focuses of the research will be the search for dark matter, a substance that is known to make up most of the matter in the universe but lacks a direct detection, thus making its fundamental nature unknown. To search for it, advanced and novel experiments will be performed in the Center. “Here, we hope that the diverse expertise and methods of the experts within the Center will lead to substantial progress”, says Stefan Ulmer, Chief Scientist at RIKEN, Professor at HHU Düsseldorf, and one of the Center speakers.
The research program has a number of aims, including the development of improved optical clocks based on atomic ions, hydrogen, nucleons and highly charges ions. In addition, the partners will combine their expertise to refine measurements of fundamental physical constants such as the electron mass, the fine structure consonant, the Rydberg constant and nuclear radii, and to search for new physical phenomena such as a fifth force. To achieve the scientific goals, advanced experiments that enable measurements at the highest precision will be pursued. To this end, the researchers will develop novel experimental techniques that enable measurements at the highest sensitivities and smallest timescales. “Within the Center a combination of world-leading researchers have found each other, and they are uniquely positioned to successfully execute the scientific aims” says Piet Schmidt, Chief Scientist at PTB and one of the Center speakers.
“The Center is a unique platform that brings together the outstanding expertise of the researchers involved to answer these questions of great scientific impact,” says Klaus Blaum, director at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) and one of the Center speakers.
In 2019 the initiative for the founding of the MPG-PTB-RIKEN Center came from the MPIK, with the goal to bring together existing collaborations. The partners are the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (Blaum and Pfeifer divisions), the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (Hänsch group, Udem), the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) with two departments and the QUEST Institute (Peik and Schmidt) as well as RIKEN with two research groups (Katori and Ulmer). The scientific activities are coordinated by MPIK (Andreas Mooser).