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Atomic Physics

Quantum electrodynamics, strong electromagnetic fields, ion-matter interactions

Research with ion and antiproton beams has opened up new opportunities for many areas besides hadron and nuclear physics. A field which especially benefited from the availability of highly-charged heavy ions and antiprotons is atomic physics.
Atomic physics phenomena are generally very well understood in terms of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) - the theory of the electromagnetic interaction. QED is regarded as one of most accurate and best-confirmed theory in physics. The bulk of QED tests performed so far addressed the regime of low and medium-strong fields. In the area of very strong electromagnetic fields, there still exist uncertainties concerning the precise QED formalism.

Ultrastrong electromagnetic fields occur in highly-charged heavy ions and can be further increased in experiments with fast heavy ions passing each other. The field strengths achieved in those experiments can well exceed the critical value for spontaneous electron-positron creation out of the vacuum. The new project will open up unique opportunities for research in these areas of ultra-strong field physics and QED tests at very high fields.




In hydrogen-like ions the electric field strength increases with the nuclear charge. Experiments with highly-charged ions allow very precise measurements of the quantum electrodynamic in strong electromagnetic fields.


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