Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Upping the anti

06.06.2011
Canadian researchers instrumental in game-changing antimatter study

Science fiction is fast approaching science fact as researchers are progressing rapidly toward "bottling" antimatter.

In a paper published online today by the journal Nature Physics, the ALPHA experiment at CERN, including key Canadian contributors, reports that it has succeeded in storing antimatter atoms for over 16 minutes. While carrying around bottled antimatter like in the movie Angels and Demons remains fundamentally far-fetched, storing antimatter for long periods of time opens up new vistas for scientists struggling to understand this elusive substance.

ALPHA managed to store twice the antihydrogen (the antimatter partner to normal hydrogen) 5,000 times longer than the previous best, setting the stage, for example, to test whether antihydrogen and normal hydrogen fall the same way due to gravity.

Lead author Makoto Fujiwara, TRIUMF research scientist, University of Calgary adjunct professor, and spokesperson of the Canadian part of the ALPHA team said, "We know we have confined antihydrogen atoms for at least for 1,000 seconds. That's almost as long as one period in hockey! This is potentially a game changer in antimatter research."

Antimatter remains one of the biggest mysteries of science. At the Big Bang, matter and antimatter should have been produced equally, but since they destroy each other upon contact, eventually nothing should have remained but pure energy (light). However, all observations suggest that only the antimatter has vanished. To figure out what happened to "the lost half of the universe," scientists are eager to determine if, as predicted, the laws of physics are the same for both matter and antimatter. ALPHA uses an analogue of a very well-known system in physics, the hydrogen atom (one electron orbiting one proton), and testing whether its antimatter twin, antihydrogen (an antielectron orbiting an antiproton), behaves the same. But to study something one must hold onto it long enough.

Fujiwara asks, "Does antimatter shine in the same colour as matter? Does it experience the gravity in the same way as matter?" These are still very difficult experiments, and they will take long and hard work, but this new result is a very important step. Now experiments will be about 10,000 times less difficult than before!" Explained ALPHA spokesperson Jeffrey Hangst of Aarhus University, "This would provide the first-ever look inside the structure of antihydrogen - element 1 on the anti-periodic table."

Antihydrogen atoms were first made in large quantities at CERN eight years ago, but can't be stored conventionally since antiatoms touching the ordinary-matter walls of a bottle would instantly annihilate. The ALPHA collaboration succeeded by developing a sophisticated "magnetic bottle" using a state-of-the-art superconducting magnet to suspend the antiatoms away from the walls, last year demonstrating definitive proof of antihydrogen atom capture for about a tenth of a second, likely the first contained antiatoms in the history of the universe.

Canadian scientists have been playing leading roles in the antihydrogen detection and data analysis aspects of the project. The next step for ALPHA is to start performing measurements on bottled 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 twins.

"I've always liked hydrogen atoms," said Walter Hardy of the University of British Columbia a leading expert in atomic hydrogen studies. "It's ironic that we are now trying to measure the same properties of antihydrogen that I measured many years ago on regular hydrogen. It is a crucial comparison, though, and will tell us if we truly understand the relationship between matter and antimatter. "

Support for ALPHA-Canada and its research came from NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council, TRIUMF, AIF (Alberta Ingenuity Fund), the Killam Trust, and FQRNT (Le Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et les technologies).

About TRIUMF: TRIUMF is Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics. Located on the south campus of the University of British Columbia, TRIUMF is owned and operated as a joint venture by a consortium of the following Canadian universities, via a contribution through the National Research Council Canada and building capital funds from the Government of British Columbia: University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, Carleton University, University of Guelph, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, Université de Montréal, University of Northern British Columbia, Queen's University, University of Regina, Saint Mary's University, Simon Fraser University, University of Toronto, University of Victoria, University of Winnipeg, York University. See http://www.triumf.ca.

About ALPHA-Canada: ALPHA is a collaboration of about 40 physicists from 15 institutions from Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Sweden, UK, and the USA. ALPHA-Canada currently consists of 8 senior scientists, 5 graduate students, and several professional staff from 5 Canadian institutions. ALPHA-Canada constitute about one third of the entire ALPHA collaboration. 14 out of 40 ALPHA co-authors in the reported work are with ALPHA-Canada: Andrea Gutierrez, Sarah Seif El Nasr, Walter Hardy (Univ. of British Columbia), Tim Friesen, Richard Hydomako, Robert Thompson (Univ. of Calgary), Mohammad Ashkezari, Michael Hayden (Simon Fraser Univ.), Scott Menary (York Univ.), Makoto Fujiwara, David Gill, Leonid Kurchaninov, Konstantin Olchanski, Art Olin, James Storey (TRIUMF). See http://alpha.web.cern.ch/alpha & http://angelsanddemons.cern.ch.

Makoto Fujiwara | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.triumf.ca

Further reports about: ALPHA-Canada Alpha Big Bang CERN Canadian Light Source Fujiwara Science TV TRIUMF 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 >>>