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 Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object
23.05.2017 | University of California - Davis

nachricht Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence
23.05.2017 | 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: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>