Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Probing the Secrets of the Universe Inside a Metal Box

13.05.2015

Record-smashing new shield creates a large volume with a magnetic field even smaller than that found in the depths of outer space, making certain types of searches for physics beyond the Standard Model possible for the first time

The Standard Model of particle physics, sometimes called "The Theory of Almost Everything," is the best set of equations to date that describes the universe's fundamental particles and how they interact. Yet the theory has holes -- including the absence of an adequate explanation for gravity, the inability to explain the asymmetry between matter and antimatter in the early universe, which gave rise to the stars and galaxies, and the failure to identify fundamental dark matter particles or account for dark energy.


Technische Universität Müchen

This image shows the inner three layers of the magnetic shield (also known as the insert), and the cylindrical layer with 780 copper rods. The cylindrical layer is used to generate a very uniform magnetic field, which is necessary for EDM experiments. Also shown are two measurement devices: A mercury magnetometer is placed between the wooden support structure, and a high precision pendulum device, which is used for the absolute alignment of conventional magnetic field probes, is on top of the support table.

Researchers now have a new tool to aid in the search for physics beyond the good, but yet incomplete Standard Model. An international team of scientists has designed and tested a magnetic shield that is the first to achieve an extremely low magnetic field over a large volume. The device provides more than 10 times better magnetic shielding than previous state-of-the art shields. The record-setting performance makes it possible for scientists to measure certain properties of fundamental particles at higher levels of precision -- which in turn could reveal previously hidden physics and set parameters in the search for new particles.

The researchers describe the new magnetic shield in a paper in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing.

High precision measurements are one of three frontiers to search for physics beyond the Standard Model, explained Tobias Lins, a doctoral student who worked on the new magnetic shield in the research lab of Professor Peter Fierlinger at the Technische Universität München in Germany. The precision measurements complement other methods to search for new physics, including slamming particles together in a collider to generate new, high-energy particles, and peering into space to catch signals from the early universe.

"Precision experiments are able to probe nature up to energy scales which might not be accessible by current and next generation collider experiments," Lins said. That's because the existence of exotic new particles can slightly alter the properties of already known particles. A tiny deviation from the expected properties may indicate that an as-yet-undiscovered fundamental particle inhabits the "particle zoo."

Constructing the Shield

The researchers built the new shield out of several layers of a special alloy, composed of nickel and iron, that has a high degree of magnetic permeability -- meaning it can act like a sponge to absorb and redirect an applied magnetic field, like the earth's own magnetic field or fields generated by equipment such as motors and transformers.

"The apparatus might be compared to cuboid Russian nesting dolls," Lins said. "Like the dolls, most layers can be used individually and with an increasing number of layers the inside is more and more protected."

The team's big breakthrough came from in-depth numerical modeling of the arrangement of the precision treated magnetizable alloy, resulting in significantly optimized design details, like thickness, connections and spacing of layers.

The materials in magnetic shields change their magnetization due to environmental influences, like temperature changes and vibrations caused by passing cars, and these shifts can be passed to the inside of the shield. The thinner sheets in the new design enabled a better balancing of the magnetic field in the metal, resulting in the smallest and most homogenous magnetic field ever created within the shielded space, even beating the average ambient magnetic field of the interstellar medium.

New Experiments Ahead

Plans are already underway to use the new magnetic shield in an experiment to test limits for the distribution of charges (called the electric dipole moment, or EDM) of an isotope of xenon. An EDM that is higher than predicted by the Standard Model could signal the existence of a new particle whose mass is linked to the amount by which the EDM deviates from the expected value.

The researchers also want to use a modified SQUID detector -- which can detect extremely subtle magnetic fields -- to search for long theorized, but never detected magnetic monopoles. Within the magnetically quiet space inside the shield, a monopole passing by the SQUID might produce a magnetic field higher than the background noise level, Lins said.

The article, "A large-scale magnetic shield with 10^6 damping at millihertz frequencies," is authored by I. Altarev, M. Bales, D. H. Beck, T. Chupp, K. Fierlinger, P. Fierlinger, F. Kuchler, T. Lins, M. G. Marino, B. Niessen, G. Petzoldt, U. Schläpfer, A. Schnabel, J. T. Singh, R. Stoepler, S. Stuiber, M. Sturm, B. Taubenheim and J. Voigt. It will be published in the Journal of Applied Physics on May 12, 2015 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4919366). After that date, it can be accessed at: http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/jap/117/18/10.1063/1.4919366

The authors of this paper are affiliated with the universities Technische Universität Müchen, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Michigan and Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin and the industry partner IMEDCO AG as manufacturer of the shield.

ABOUT THE JOURNAL
Journal of Applied Physics is an influential international journal publishing significant new experimental and theoretical results of applied physics research. See: http://jap.aip.org

Contact Information
Catherine Meyers
Media Services Writer
cmeyers@aip.org
Phone: 301-209-3088

Catherine Meyers | newswise

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films
23.08.2019 | Universität Hamburg

nachricht Building an atomic-scale vacuum trap for spin-polarized electrons
23.08.2019 | University of Hamburg Sonderforschungsbereich 668

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: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making small intestine endoscopy faster with a pill-sized high-tech camera

23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

More reliable operation offshore wind farms

23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tracing the evolution of vision

23.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>