A new door to the quantum world has been opened: When an atom absorbs or
releases energy via the quantum leap of an electron, it becomes heavier or
lighter. This can be explained by Einstein's theory of relativity (E =
mc2). However, the effect is minuscule for a single atom. Nevertheless, the
team of Klaus Blaum and Sergey Eliseev at the Max Planck Institute for
Nuclear Physics has successfully measured this infinitesimal change in the
mass of individual atoms for the first time. In order to achieve this, they
used the ultra-precise Pentatrap atomic balance at the Institute in
Heidelberg. The team discovered a previously unobserved quantum state in
rhenium, which could be interesting for future atomic clocks. Above all,
this extremely sensitive atomic balance enables a better understanding of
the complex quantum world of heavy atoms.


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