Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ALPHA stores antimatter atoms for over a quarter of an hour -- and still counting

06.06.2011
Berkeley Lab physicists join with their international colleagues in reaching a new frontier in antimatter science

The ALPHA Collaboration, an international team of scientists working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, has created and stored a total of 309 antihydrogen atoms, some for up to 1,000 seconds (almost 17 minutes), with an indication of much longer storage time as well.

ALPHA announced in November, 2010, that they had succeeded in storing antimatter atoms for the first time ever, having captured 38 atoms of antihydrogen and storing each for a sixth of a second. In the weeks following, ALPHA continued to collect anti-atoms and hold them for longer and longer times.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley, including Joel Fajans and Jonathan Wurtele of Berkeley Lab's Accelerator and Fusion Research Division (AFRD), both UC Berkeley physics professors, are members of the ALPHA Collaboration.

Says Fajans, "Perhaps the most important aspect of this result is that after just one second these antihydrogen atoms had surely already decayed to ground state. These were likely the first ground state anti-atoms ever made." Since almost all precision measurements require atoms in the ground state, ALPHA's achievement opens a path to new experiments with antimatter.

A principal component of ALPHA's atom trap is a superconducting octupole magnet proposed and prototyped in Berkeley Lab's AFRD. It takes ALPHA about 15 minutes to make and capture atoms of antihydrogen in their magnetic trap.

"So far, the only way we know whether we've caught an anti-atom is to turn off the magnet," says Fajans. "When the anti-atom hits the wall of the trap it annihilates, which tells us that we got one. In the beginning we were turning off our trap as soon as possible after each attempt to make anti-atoms, so as not to miss any."

Says Wurtele, "At first we needed to demonstrate that we could trap antihydrogen. Once we proved that, we started optimizing the system and made rapid progress, a real qualitative change."

Initially ALPHA caught only about one anti-atom in every 10 tries, but Fajans notes that at its best the ALPHA apparatus trapped one anti-atom with nearly every attempt.

Although the physical set-ups are different, ALPHA's ability to hold anti-atoms in a magnetic trap for 1,000 seconds, and presumably longer, compares well to the length of time ordinary atoms can be magnetically confined.

"A thousand seconds is more than enough time to perform measurements on a confined anti-atom," says Fajans. "For instance, it's enough time for the anti-atoms to interact with laser beams or microwaves." He jokes that, at CERN, "it's even enough time to go for coffee."

The ALPHA Collaboration not only made and stored the long-lived antihydrogen atoms, it was able to measure their energy distribution.

"It may not sound exciting, but it's the first experiment done on trapped antihydrogen atoms," Wurtele says. "This summer we're planning more experiments, with microwaves. Hopefully we will measure microwave-induced changes of the atomic state of the anti-atoms." With these and other experiments the ALPHA Collaboration aims to determine the properties of antihydrogen and measure matter-antimatter asymmetry with precision.

A program of upgrades is being planned that will allow experiments not possible with the current ALPHA apparatus. At present the experimenters don't have laser access to the trap. Lasers are essential for performing spectroscopy and for "cooling" the antihydrogen atoms (reducing their energy and slowing them down) to perform other experiments.

Fajans says, "We hope to have laser access by 2012. We're clearly ready to move to the next level."

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world's most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab's scientific expertise has been recognized with 12 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

Additional information

"Confinement of antihydrogen for 1000 seconds," by the ALPHA Collaboration: G. B. Andresen, M. D. Ashkezari, M. Baquero-Ruiz, W. Bertsche, E. Butler, C. L. Cesar, A. Deller, S. Eriksson, J. Fajans, T. Friesen, M. C. Fujiwara, D. R. Gill, A. Gutierrez, J. S. Hangst, W. N. Hardy, R. S. Hayano, M. E. Hayden, A. J. Humphries, R. Hydomako, S. Jonsell, S. Kemp, L. Kurchaninov, N. Madsen, S. Menary, P. Nolan, K. Olchanski, A. Olin, P. Pusa, C. Ø. Rasmussen, F. Robicheaux, E. Sarid, D. M. Silveira, C. So, J. W. Storey, R. I. Thompson, D. P. van der Werf, J. S. Wurtele, Y. Yamazaki, appears in Nature Physics and is available online at http://www.nature.com/nphys/index.html.

Details of the ALPHA method of creating and trapping antihydrogen atoms may be found in "Antimatter Atoms Successfully Stored for the First Time," the 17 November 2010 Berkeley Lab news release, at http://newscenter.lbl.gov/news-releases/2010/11/17/antimatter-atoms/.

Paul Preuss | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.lbl.gov

Further reports about: AFRD CERN Collaboration Laboratory hydrogen atom laser beam specimen processing

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time
17.10.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging
17.10.2017 | American Association for the Advancement of Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>