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 What happens when we heat the atomic lattice of a magnet all of a sudden?
17.07.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin

nachricht Subaru Telescope helps pinpoint origin of ultra-high energy neutrino
16.07.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

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: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>