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hyperfine structure

[hahy-per-fahyn, hahy-] /ˈhaɪ pərˈfaɪn, ˌhaɪ-/
noun, Physics.
1.
the splitting of the lines of an atomic spectrum, produced by the angular momentum of the nucleus of the atom.
Compare fine structure.
Origin
1925-1930
1925-30; hyper- + fine1
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for hyperfine structure

hyperfine structure

/ˈhaɪpəˌfaɪn/
noun
1.
the splitting of a spectral line of an atom or molecule into two or more closely spaced components as a result of interaction of the electrons with the magnetic moments of the nuclei Compare fine structure See also Zeeman effect
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Encyclopedia Article for hyperfine structure

in spectroscopy, the splitting of a spectral line into a number of components. The splitting is caused by nuclear effects and cannot be observed in an ordinary spectroscope without the aid of an optical device called an interferometer. In fine structure (q.v.), line splitting is the result of energy changes produced by electron spin-orbit coupling (i.e., interaction of forces from orbital and spin motion of electrons); but in hyperfine structure, line splitting is attributed to the fact that in addition to electron spin in an atom, the atomic nucleus itself spins about its own axis. Energy states of the atom will be split into levels corresponding to slightly different energies. Each of these energy levels may be assigned a quantum number, and they are then called quantized levels. Thus, when the atoms of an element radiate energy, transitions are made between these quantized energy levels, giving rise to hyperfine structure.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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