By freezing out the motion between particles in a high-energy storage ring, it should be possible1,2,3,4 to create threads of ions, offering research opportunities beyond the realm of standard accelerator physics. The usual heating due to intra-beam collisions should completely vanish, giving rise to a state of unprecedented brilliance. Despite a continuous improvement of beam cooling techniques, such as electron cooling and laser cooling, the ultimate goal5 of beam crystallization has not yet been reached in high-energy storage rings. Electron-cooled dilute beams of highly charged ions show liquid-like order6,7 with unique applications8. An experiment5 using laser cooling9,10 suggested a reduction of intra-beam heating, although the results were ambiguous. Here we demonstrate the crystallization of laser-cooled Mg+ beams circulating in the radiofrequency quadrupole storage ring PALLAS11,12 at a velocity of 2,800 m s-1, which corresponds to a beam energy of 1 eV. A sudden collapse of the transverse beam size and the low longitudinal velocity spread clearly indicate the phase transition. The continuous ring-shaped crystalline beam shows exceptional stability, surviving for more than 3,000 revolutions without cooling.
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We thank R. Neugart for technical support, and P. Kienle and H. Walther for discussions. The work was partially funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Maier Leibmitz Labor.
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Schätz, T., Schramm, U. & Habs, D. Crystalline ion beams. Nature 412, 717–720 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/35089045
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