Metastable magnesium maintained

Researchers have trapped magnesium-24 atoms in an excited metastable state using a magneto-optical trap cooled to near absolute zero and set a new record for the lifetime they could sustain the atoms in the excited state of 2050 seconds, about half an hour. Normally, atomic excited states exist for nanoseconds at most although metastable states might be sustained for a few seconds. The researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute were able to carry out precision measurements on the atoms, which might lead to the development of an ultra-precise atomic clock using the metastable magnesium.