Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Quantum leap: Magnetic properties of a single proton directly observed for the first time

21.06.2011
Most important milestone in the direct measurement of the magnetic moment of the proton and its anti-particle has been achieved / Focusing the matter-antimatter symmetry

Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), together with their colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, have observed spin quantum-jumps with a single trapped proton for the first time.


Double-Penning trap for the storage of one individual proton and the detection of spin quantum-jumps. photo/©: Holger Kracke

The fact that they have managed to procure this elusive data means that they have overtaken their research competitors at the elite Harvard University and are now the global leaders in this field. The result is a pioneering step forward in the endeavor to directly measure the magnetic properties of the proton with high precision. The measuring principle is based on the observation of a single proton stored in an electromagnetic particle trap.

As it would also be possible to observe an anti-proton using the same method, the prospect that an explanation for the matter-antimatter imbalance in the universe could be found has become a reality. It is essential to be able to analyze antimatter in detail if we are to understand why matter and antimatter did not completely cancel each other out after the Big Bang - in other words, if we are to comprehend how the universe actually came into existence.

The proton has an intrinsic angular momentum or spin, just like other particles. It is like a tiny bar magnet; in this analogy, a spin quantum jump would correspond to a (switch) flip of the magnetic poles. However, detecting the proton spin is a major challenge. While the magnetic moments of the electron and its anti-particle, the positron, were already being measured and compared in the 1980s, this has yet to be achieved in the case of the proton. "We have long been aware of the magnetic moment of the proton, but it has thus far not been observed directly for a single proton but only in the case of particle ensembles," explains Stefan Ulmer, a member of the work group headed by Professor Dr Jochen Walz at the Institute of Physics at the new Helmholtz Institute Mainz.

The real problem is that the magnetic moment of the proton is 660 times smaller than that of the electron, which means that it is considerably harder to detect. It has taken the collaborative research team five years to prepare an experiment that would be precise enough to pass the crucial test. "At last we have successfully demonstrated the detection of the spin direction of a single trapped proton," says an exultant Ulmer, a stipendiary of the International Max Planck Research School for Quantum Dynamics in Heidelberg.

This opens the way for direct high-precision measurements of the magnetic moments of both the proton and the anti-proton. The latter is likely to be undertaken at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics in Geneva, or at FLAIR/GSI in Darmstadt. The magnetic moment of the anti-proton is currently only known to three decimal places. The method used at the laboratories in Mainz aims at a millionfold improvement of the measuring accuracy and should represent a new highly sensitive test of the matter-antimatter symmetry. This first observation of the spin quantum jumps of a single proton is a crucial milestone in the pursuit of this aim.

Matter-antimatter symmetry is one of the pillars of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. According to this model, particles and anti-particles should behave identically once inversions of charge, parity and time - referred to as CPT transformation – are applied simultaneously. High-precision comparisons of the fundamental properties of particles and anti-particles make it possible to accurately determine whether this symmetrical behavior actually occurs, and may provide the basis for theories that extend beyond the Standard Model. Assuming that a difference between the magnetic moments of protons and anti-protons could be detected, this would open up a window on this "new physics".

The results obtained by the Mainz cooperative research team were published online in the leading specialist journal Physical Review Letters on Monday. The article is presented as an "Editor's Suggestion." Furthermore, the American Physical Society (APS) presents the article as "Viewpoint."

The research work carried out by the team of Professor Dr Jochen Walz on anti-hydrogen and the magnetic moment of protons forms part of the "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA) Cluster of Excellence, which is currently applying for future sponsorship under the German Federal Excellence Initiative.

Publication:
S. Ulmer, C.C. Rodegheri, K. Blaum, H. Kracke, A. Mooser, W. Quint, J. Walz
Observation of Spin Flips with a Single Trapped Proton
Physical Review Letters (Vol.106, No.25), June 2011
DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.253001
Weitere Informationen:
http://www.quantum.physik.uni-mainz.de/en/ag_walz/index.html
- Walz Group at Mainz University ;
http://www.quantum.physik.uni-mainz.de/en/members/ag_walz/sulmer.html
- Stefan Ulmer at Mainz University ;
http://prl.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v106/i25/e253001
- Abstract Physical Review Letters ;
http://physics.aps.org/
- Viewpoint American Physical Society ;
http://www.uni-mainz.de/eng/14236.php
- Press Release Mainz University

Petra Giegerich | idw
Further information:
http://www.uni-mainz.de/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Basque researchers turn light upside down
23.02.2018 | Elhuyar Fundazioa

nachricht Attoseconds break into atomic interior
23.02.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik

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: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>