Contact: Laura Ost
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Caption: This is an illustration of symmetry in the magnetic properties -- or nuclear 'spins' -- of strontium atoms. JILA researchers observed that if two atoms have the same nuclear spin state (top), they interact weakly, and the interaction strength does not depend on which of the 10 possible nuclear spin states are involved. If the atoms have different nuclear spin states (bottom), they interact much more strongly, and, again, always with the same strength.
Credit: Ye and Rey groups and Steve Burrows/JILA
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Related news release: JILA team finds first direct evidence of 'spin symmetry' in atoms