Hyperfine-induced quadrupole moments of alkali-metal-atom ground states and their implications for atomic clocks
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Spherically symmetric ground states of alkali-metal atoms do not posses electric quadrupole moments. However, the hyperfine interaction between nuclear moments and atomic electrons distorts the spherical symmetry of electronic clouds and leads to nonvanishing atomic quadrupole moments. We evaluate these hyperfine-induced quadrupole moments using techniques of relativistic many-body theory and compile results for Li, Na, K, Rb, and Cs atoms. For heavy atoms we find that the hyperfine-induced quadrupole moments are strongly (two orders of magnitude) enhanced by correlation effects. We further apply the results of the calculation to microwave atomic clocks where the coupling of atomic quadrupole moments to gradients of electric fields leads to clock frequency uncertainties. We show that for Cs-133 atomic clocks, the spatial gradients of electric fields must be smaller than 30 V/cm(2) to guarantee fractional inaccuracies below 10(-16).