Metrology in atomic physics has been crucial for a number of advanced determinations of fundamental constants. In addition to very precise frequency measurements, the molar polarizability of an atomic gas has recently also been measured very accurately. Part of the motivation for the measurements is due to ongoing efforts to redefine the International System of Units (SI), for which an accurate value of the Boltzmann constant is needed. Here we calculate the dominant shift of the molar polarizability in an atomic gas due to thermal effects. It is given by the relativistic correction to the dipole interaction, which emerges when the probing electric field is Lorentz transformed into the rest frame of the atoms that undergo thermal motion. While this effect is small when compared to currently available experimental accuracy, the relativistic correction to the dipole interaction is much larger than the thermal shift of the polarizability induced by blackbody radiation.



Keywords and Phrases

Atomic Gas; Black Body Radiation; Boltzmann; Boltzmann Constants; Dipole Interaction; Frequency Measurements; Fundamental Constants; Lorentz; Polarizabilities; Relativistic Correction; Thermal Correction; Thermal Motion; Thermal Shift; Antenna Radiation; Electric Fields; Gases; Metric System; Polarization; Atoms

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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© 2011 American Physical Society (APS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Dec 2011

Included in

Physics Commons