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Journal Article

Observation of the Efimov state of the helium trimer


Schöllkopf,  Wieland
Molecular Physics, Fritz Haber Institute, Max Planck Society;

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Kunitski, M., Zeller, S., Voigtsberger, J., Kalinin, A., Schmidt, L. P. H., Schöffler, M., et al. (2015). Observation of the Efimov state of the helium trimer. Science, 348(6234), 551-555. doi:10.1126/science.aaa5601.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0026-AC44-1
Quantum theory dictates that upon weakening the two-body interaction in a three-body system, an infinite number of three-body bound states of a huge spatial extent emerge just before these three-body states become unbound. Three helium (He) atoms have been predicted to form a molecular system that manifests this peculiarity under natural conditions without artificial tuning of the attraction between particles by an external field. Here we report experimental observation of this long-predicted but experimentally elusive Efimov state of 4He3 by means of Coulomb explosion imaging. We show spatial images of an Efimov state, confirming the predicted size and a typical structure where two atoms are close to each other while the third is far away.