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Rotational degeneracy breaking of atomic substates: A composite quantum system in a noninertial reference frame


The degenerate magnetic substates of a field-free atomic system are split in a rotating reference frame. The splitting and ordering of the states should be experimentally demonstrable by means of laser-induced quantum interference spectroscopy of hydrogenic Rydberg states. This would manifest dynamical consequences of a noninertial reference frame on theinternal structure of a composite quantum system-in contrast to the observed neutron Sagnac effect, which involves the relative phase of essentially point particles. The predicted level splitting is independent of constituent particle masses; a composite quantum system in a rotating reference frame exhibits effects inequivalent to those that would be engendered in an inertial frame by a gravitational field.

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The original essay upon which this article is based received honorable mention from the Gravity Research Foundation for 1988.

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Silverman, M.P. Rotational degeneracy breaking of atomic substates: A composite quantum system in a noninertial reference frame. Gen Relat Gravit 21, 517–532 (1989).

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  • Reference Frame
  • Relative Phase
  • Gravitational Field
  • Particle Masse
  • Dynamical Consequence