The studies of ytterbium (Yb) atoms frozen in solid neon (Ne) are motivated to determine the feasibility of optically polarizing nuclear spins of the impurity atoms in noble-gas solids. This technique has potential for applications including testing fundamental symmetries, studying rare isotopes, and perhaps quantum memory and quantum computing. Yb atoms frozen in solid Ne qualitatively retain the structure of free atoms. However, transitions are found to have significantly broadened linewidth -- a few nanometers for outer-shell transitions and as narrow as 0.03 nm for inner-shell transitions. Splitting of transitions is also observed, and is attributed to the broken spherical symmetry of the trapping sites in solid Ne. The lifetimes of 6s6p 3P0,1 in different Yb isotopes are measured in solid Ne. The finite lifetime of 6s6p 3P0 in Yb-171 is attributed to hyperfine quenching, and determines the natural linewidth of the Yb clock transition. Our first experimental determination of this lifetime agrees with a recent ab initio calculation. The lifetime of 6s6p 3P1 in solid Ne is slightly modified by medium effects, which includes an index-of-refraction effect. Toward the end, optical pumping of Yb-171 nuclei in solid Ne will be discussed. This work was supported by Department of Energy, Office of Nuclear Physics.
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