The observation of vibrating pear-shapes in radon nuclei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


There is a large body of evidence that atomic nuclei can undergo octupole distortion and assume the shape of a pear. This phenomenon is important for measurements of electric-dipole moments of atoms, which would indicate CP violation and hence probe physics beyond the Standard Model of particle physics. Isotopes of both radon and radium have been identified as candidates for such measurements. Here, we observed the low-lying quantum states in 224Rn and 226Rn by accelerating beams of these radioactive nuclei. We show that radon isotopes undergo octupole vibrations but do not possess static pear-shapes in their ground states. We conclude that radon atoms provide less favourable conditions for the enhancement of a measurable atomic electric-dipole moment.


  • P. A. Butler
  • L. P. Gaffney
  • P. Spagnoletti
  • J. Konki
  • M. Scheck
  • J. F. Smith
  • K. Abrahams
  • M. Bowry
  • T. Chupp
  • G. de Angelis
  • H. De Witte
  • P. E. Garrett
  • A. Goldkuhle
  • C. Henrich
  • A. Illana
  • K. Johnston
  • D. T. Joss
  • J. M. Keatings
  • N. A. Kelly
  • M. Komorowska
  • T. Kröll
  • M. Lozano
  • B. S. Nara Singh
  • D. O’Donnell
  • J. Ojala
  • R. D. Page
  • L. G. Pedersen
  • C. Raison
  • P. Reiter
  • J. A. Rodriguez
  • D. Rosiak
  • S. Rothe
  • T. M. Shneidman
  • B. Siebeck
  • M. Seidlitz
  • J. Sinclair
  • M. Stryjczyk
  • P. Van Duppen
  • S. Vinals
  • V. Virtanen
  • N. Warr
  • K. Wrzosek-Lipska
  • M. Zielinska
External organisations
  • University of Liverpool
  • CERN
  • University of the West of Scotland
  • University of the Western Cape
  • University of Michigan
  • INFN Laboratori Nazionali di Legnaro
  • Catholic University of Leuven
  • University of Guelph
  • University of Cologne
  • Technical University of Darmstadt
  • University of Warsaw
  • University of Jyväskylä
  • Helsinki Institute of Physics
  • University of Oslo
  • University of York
  • JINR Dubna
  • Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Científicas
  • University of Paris-Saclay
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Accelerator Physics and Instrumentation
Original languageEnglish
Article number2473
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1
Publication categoryResearch