Precision Spectroscopy of Atomic Helium


Helium is a prototype three-body system and has long been a model system for developing quantum mechanics theory and computational methods. The fine structure splitting in the 23P state of helium is considered to be the most suitable for determining the fine structure constant α in atoms. After more than 50 years of efforts by many theorists and experimentalists, now we are working toward a determination of α with an accuracy of a few parts per billion, which can be compared to the results obtained by entirely different methods to verify the self-consistency of QED. Moreover, the precision spectroscopy of helium allows determination of the nuclear charge radius, and it is expected to help resolve the “proton radius puzzle”. In this review, we introduce the latest developments in the precision spectroscopy of the helium atom, especially the discrepancies among theoretical and experimental results, and give an outlook on future progress.

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