Measuring the fine structure constant with a state-of-the-art atom interferometer
Measurements of the fine-structure constant α require methods from across subfields and are thus powerful tests of the consistency of theory and experiment in physics. Using the recoil frequency of Cesium-133 atoms in a matter-wave interferometer, we recorded the most accurate measurement of the fine-structure constant to date: α = 1/137.035999046(27) at 2.0 × 10−10 accuracy. Using multiphoton interactions (Bragg diffraction and Bloch oscilla- tions), we demonstrate the largest phase (12 million radians) of any Ramsey-Bord ́e interfer- ometer and control systematic effects at a level of 0.12 part per billion. Comparison with Penning trap measurements of the electron gyromagnetic anomaly ge − 2 via the Standard Model of particle physics is now limited by the uncertainty in ge − 2; a 2.5σ tension rejects dark photons as the reason for the unexplained part of the muon’s magnetic moment at a 99% confidence level. Implications for dark-sector candidates and electron substructure may be a sign of physics beyond the Standard Model that warrants further investigation.