Microwave Technique for Determining the Fine Structure of the Helium Atom

Phys. Rev. 105, 559 – Published 15 January 1957
Willis E. Lamb, Jr.


A new technique of microwave spectroscopy is proposed for application to excited states of short lifetime. If atoms are excited by electron bombardment, closely-spaced energy levels may be unequally populated. The radiation emitted in decay to lower states may have an angular distribution and polarization character correlated with the direction of bombardment. When such atoms are acted on by radio-frequency fields, transitions may occur between excited states which cause an observable change in the pattern of decay radiation. An analysis is made of the possibility of applying such a method to a determination of the finestructure patterns (1snp) PJ3 (J=0, 1, 2) of the helium atom. After a review of previous optical spectroscopic work and theory of this fine structure, an old unsolved mystery concerning the polarization of collision light is discussed. The theory of the Zeeman effect is worked out in a form applicable to the microwave experiments. Expected transition frequencies and rf matrix elements, intensity changes and shape of resonance curves, Stark effect and singlet-triplet mixing are also considered. An estimate is made of the signal to be expected in the experiment described in the following paper.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRev.105.559

  • Received 1 August 1956
  • Published in the issue dated January 1957

© 1957 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Willis E. Lamb, Jr.*

  • Stanford University, Stanford, California

  • *Present address: Clarendon Laboratory, Oxford, England.

References (Subscription Required)

Authorization Required




Log In



Article Lookup
Paste a citation or DOI

Enter a citation
  1. Enter a citation to look up or terms to search.

    Ex: "PRL 112 068103", "Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 068103", "10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.068103"