First controlled production of atomic antimatter
Physicists have just achieved the world’s first controlled production of anti-hydrogen atoms, the crucial first step towards precision studies of its properties.
This achievement has opened up the potential to cool, trap and study anti-atoms.
A team from the University of Wales - Swansea, led by Professor Michael Charlton, played a key role in this major breakthrough as part of an international consortium, ATHENA. The Swindon based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council provided funding for the Swansea team of £1.2M over the past 6 years.
“This is a milestone that has opened up new horizons, to enable scientists to study symmetry in nature and explore the fundamental laws of physics which govern the universe, said Prof Charlton. “We are also asking the related question ‘where has all the antimatter gone?’ Today our Universe appears to consist entirely of matter: but we know that equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created in the Big Bang.”
The first step in producing anti-atoms is to confine positive and negative antiparticles in traps at very low temperature. Then they are slowly allowed to react in ultra-high vacuum, which is essential, as the antiparticles will annihilate when they meet normal matter. The result of the interaction is the first and simplest of anti-atoms, anti-hydrogen.
The breakthrough is timely as it coincides with the centenary of the birth of Paul Dirac, who first predicted in 1930, that every particle has an equivalent antiparticle. The British physicists at Swansea played a vital role in the project by making the trap for the positively charged antiparticles, known as positrons.
Professor Charlton acknowledges the support he has received for this research, “EPSRC took a chance in funding this highly speculative project in 1996. This acted as a catalyst, which persuaded other countries to contribute to the ATHENA consortium.”
Jane Reck | alfa
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...