Laser spectroscopy of simple atoms is sensitive to properties of the atomic
nucleus, such as its charge and magnetization distribution, or its
polarizability. This allows determining the nuclear parameters from atomic
spectroscopy, but also limits the attainable precision for the determination of
fundamental constants or the test of QED and the Standard Model.
In light muonic atoms and ions, one negative muon replaces all atomic electrons,
resulting in a calculable hydrogen-like system. Due to the muon's large mass
(200 times the electron mass), the muon orbits the nucleus on a 200 times
smaller Bohr radius, increasing the sensitivity of muonic atoms to nuclear
properties by 200^3 = 10 million.
This has resulted in a 10fold increase in the precision of the charge radius of
the proton, deuteron, and the stable helium nuclei. The consequences for atomic
and nuclear physics, the determination of fundamental constants, and the test of
QED and the Standard Model are discussed.