The problem is how to find such an atom - among billions of others. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have developed a laser technique that, in combination with standard techniques, may be able to do the job.
Hafnium is a common metallic element used in nuclear reactors. However, one of its isotopes is hard to find since it is only made when a supernova explodes. This means that if the isotope, called 182Hf, were discovered on Earth, it would prove that a supernova once exploded near our solar system. This has caused physicists around the world to work hard to find the isotope.One among billions
'Our goal is to develop a method that can be of aid when searching for very unusual isotopes. In many cases the standard methods used are hampered by other, interfering atoms. The technique is still in its infancy, but we have shown that our laser beam can remove 99.99 % of the interfering ions in a beam without destroying the ions we are looking for', says Andersson.Journal reference:
Helena Aaberg | idw
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