Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

CERN Experiment Traps Antimatter Atoms for 1000 Seconds

07.06.2011
In a paper published online by the journal Nature Physics today, the ALPHA experiment at CERN[1] reports that it has succeeded in trapping antimatter atoms for over 16 minutes: long enough to begin to study their properties in detail. ALPHA is part of a broad programme at CERN’s antiproton decelerator (AD)[2] investigating the mysteries of one of nature’s most elusive substances.

Today, we live in a universe apparently made entirely of matter, yet at the big bang matter and antimatter would have existed in equal quantities. Nature seems to have a slight preference for matter, which allows our universe and everything in it to exist. One way of investigating nature’s preference for matter is to compare hydrogen atoms with their antimatter counterparts, and that’s what makes today’s result important.

“We can keep the antihydrogen atoms trapped for 1000 seconds,” explained ALPHA spokesperson Jeffrey Hangst of Aarhus University. “This is long enough to begin to study them - even with the small number that we can catch so far.”

In the paper published today, some 300 trapped antiatoms are reported to have been studied. The trapping of antiatoms will allow antihydrogen to be mapped precisely using laser or microwave spectroscopy so that it can be compared to the hydrogen atom, which is among the best-known systems in physics. Any difference should become apparent under careful scrutiny. Trapping antiatoms could also provide a complementary approach to measuring the influence of gravity on antimatter, which will soon be investigated with antihydrogen by the AEgIS experiment.

Another important consequence of trapping antihydrogen for long periods is that the antiatoms have time to relax into their ground state, which will allow ALPHA to conduct the precision measurements necessary to investigate a symmetry known as CPT. Symmetries in physics describe how processes look under certain transformations. C, for example, involves swapping the electric charges of the particles involved in the process. P is like looking in the mirror, while T involves reversing the arrow of time.

Individually, each of these symmetries is broken – processes do not always look the same. CPT, however, says that a particle moving forward through time in our universe should be indistinguishable from an antiparticle moving backwards through time in a mirror universe, and it is thought to be perfectly respected by nature. CPT symmetry requires that hydrogen and antihydrogen have identical spectra.

“Any hint of CPT symmetry breaking would require a serious rethink of our understanding of nature,” said Hangst. “But half of the universe has gone missing, so some kind of rethink is apparently on the agenda. ”

The next step for ALPHA is to start performing measurements on trapped antihydrogen, and this is due to get underway later this year. The first step is to illuminate the trapped anti-atoms with microwaves, to determine if they absorb exactly the same frequencies (or energies) as their matter cousins.

“If you hit the trapped antihydrogen atoms with just the right microwave frequency, they will escape from the trap, and we can detect the annihilation – even for just a single atom,” explained Hangst. “This would provide the first ever look inside the structure of antihydrogen – element number 1 on the anti-periodic table.”

Contacts:
On Sunday, contact James Gillies, Head of communication
+41 76 487 45 55
As of Monday, contact CERN Press Office, press.office@cern.ch
+41 22 767 34 32
+41 22 767 21 41
For pictures see here:
http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1307522
http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1349934
For footage see here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WN-zk_giKw
(if you click on “Show more” you will see the dope sheet accompanying this video)

Follow CERN at:

www.cern.ch
http://twitter.com/cern/
http://www.youtube.com/user/CERNTV
http://www.quantumdiaries.org/
[1] CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. One candidate for accession: Romania.

India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.

[2] ALPHA is one of several AD experiments investigating antimatter at CERN. ATRAP has pioneered trapping techniques, and is also investigating antihydrogen. ASACUSA has made measurements of unprecedented precision of the antiproton’s mass, so far not revealing any divergence from that of the proton. ASACUSA is also developing complementary techniques for studying antihydrogen. AEgIS studies how antiprotons fall under gravity, and ACE investigates the potential use of antiprotons for cancer therapy.

James Gillies | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cern.ch

Further reports about: ASACUSA Alpha CERN CPT Lobster Traps Nature Immunology Nuclear Research hydrogen atom

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for 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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>