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Title: Single-electron detection and spectroscopy via relativistic cyclotron radiation

It has been understood since 1897 that accelerating charges should emit electromagnetic radiation. Cyclotron radiation, the particular form of radiation emitted by an electron orbiting in a magnetic field, was first derived in 1904. Despite the simplicity of this concept, and the enormous utility of electron spectroscopy in nuclear and particle physics, single-electron cyclotron radiation has never been observed directly. Here we demonstrate single-electron detection in a novel radiofrequency spectrometer. We observe the cyclotron radiation emitted by individual electrons that are produced with mildly-relativistic energies by a gaseous radioactive source and are magnetically trapped. The relativistic shift in the cyclotron frequency permits a precise electron energy measurement. Precise beta electron spectroscopy from gaseous radiation sources is a key technique in modern efforts to measure the neutrino mass via the tritium decay endpoint, and this work is a proof-of-concept for future neutrino mass experiments using this technique.
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Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Physical Review Letters, 114(16):Article No. 162501
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Single electron detection and spectroscopy via relativistic cyclotron radiation