Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Magnetic trapping will help unlock the secrets of anti-matter

Date:
November 18, 2010
Source:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Summary:
A clearer understanding of the Universe, its origins and maybe even its destiny is a significant step closer, thanks to new research. As part of a major international experiment called ALPHA, based at CERN in Switzerland, researchers have helped to achieve trapping and holding atoms of 'anti-hydrogen', which has not previously been possible.

ALPHA experiment fully assembled.
Credit: © Niels Madsen, ALPHA, CERN

A clearer understanding of the Universe, its origins and maybe even its destiny is a significant step closer, thanks to new research.

As part of a major international experiment called ALPHA, based at CERN in Switzerland, researchers have helped to achieve trapping and holding atoms of 'anti-hydrogen', which has not previously been possible.

The project involves physicists at Swansea University led by Professor Mike Charlton, Dr Niels Madsen and Dr Dirk Peter van der Werf and the University of Liverpool under Professor Paul Nolan, all supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

This breakthrough will make it possible to study 'anti-matter' closely for the first time, and so develop unprecedented insight into its composition/structure and improve understanding of the fundamental physical principles that underpin the Universe and the way it works.

For nearly a decade, scientists have been able to undertake the controlled production of anti-hydrogen atoms in the laboratory -- a breakthrough which Swansea University also contributed to, with EPSRC support. But as anti-matter particles are instantly annihilated when they come into contact with matter, it has not, until now, been feasible to study anti-hydrogen atoms in any detail.

ALPHA has therefore developed techniques that not only cool and slow down the anti-particles that make up anti-hydrogen and gently mix them to produce anti-hydrogen atoms, but also trap some of the anti-atoms for long enough so they can be studied.

The key focus of this effort has been the development of electromagnetic traps that have a number of cold species inside. These traps don't just provide the conditions needed to cool the anti-particles prior to mixing. The cold anti-atoms formed also have a tiny 'magnetic moment' which means they respond to magnetic fields. By arranging the magnet coils in the right way, it is possible to set up a magnetic 'well' in the centre of the anti-particle mixing zone where anti-hydrogen has been trapped.

"Every type of particle has its anti-matter equivalent which is its mirror image in terms of having, for instance, the opposite electrical charge" says Professor Charlton. "Because hydrogen is the simplest of all atoms, anti-hydrogen is the easiest type of anti-matter to produce in the laboratory. By studying it for the first time, we will be able to understand its properties and establish whether it really is the exact mirror image of hydrogen.

"That understanding will hopefully enable us to shed light on exactly why almost everything in the known Universe consists of matter, rather than anti-matter, and what the implications are in terms of the fundamental way that the Universe functions."

In order to detect the anti-hydrogen atoms they were released from the trap. The silicon detector used to determine the positions of the resulting annihilations was developed and built at Liverpool. Professor Nolan comments that "the unique clean room and workshop facilities in Liverpool, together with detector and electronics expertise, allowed us to build this complex and unique instrument that is now part of the ALPHA experiment."

Dr Niels Madsen notes: "Trapping of anti-hydrogen is a major breakthrough in antimatter physics. Having the anti-atoms trapped will allow for comparisons of matter and anti-matter to a level that until now would have been considered wishful thinking."

The initiative is expected to run for several years, with ALPHA commencing tests on anti-hydrogen atoms in around five years time.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. G.B. Andresen, M.D. Ashkezari, M. Baquero-Ruiz, W. Bertsche, P.D. Bowe, C.C. Bray, E. Butler, C.L. Cesar, S. Chapman, M. Charlton. Search for trapped antihydrogen. Physics Letters B, 2010; DOI: 10.1016/j.physletb.2010.11.004
  2. G. B. Andresen, M. D. Ashkezari, M. Baquero-Ruiz, W. Bertsche, P. D. Bowe, E. Butler, C. L. Cesar, S. Chapman, M. Charlton, A. Deller, S. Eriksson, J. Fajans, T. Friesen, M. C. Fujiwara, D. R. Gill, A. Gutierrez, J. S. Hangst, W. N. Hardy, M. E. Hayden, A. J. Humphries, R. Hydomako, M. J. Jenkins, S. Jonsell, L. V. Jψrgensen, L. Kurchaninov, N. Madsen, S. Menary, P. Nolan, K. Olchanski, A. Olin, A. Povilus, P. Pusa, F. Robicheaux, E. Sarid, S. Seif el Nasr, D. M. Silveira, C. So, J. W. Storey, R. I. Thompson, D. P. van der Werf, J. S. Wurtele, Y. Yamazaki. Trapped antihydrogen. Nature, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nature09610

Cite This Page:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). "Magnetic trapping will help unlock the secrets of anti-matter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118093311.htm>.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). (2010, November 18). Magnetic trapping will help unlock the secrets of anti-matter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118093311.htm
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). "Magnetic trapping will help unlock the secrets of anti-matter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101118093311.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) — It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) — German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

Porsche CEO Says Supercar Is Not Dead: Cue the Spyder 918

TheStreet (Apr. 16, 2014) — The Porsche Spyder 918 proves that, in an automotive world obsessed with fuel efficiency, the supercar is not dead. Porsche North America CEO Detlev von Platen attributes the brand's consistent sales growth -- 21% in 2013 -- with an investment in new technology and expanded performance dynamics. The hybrid Spyder 918 has 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque, but it can run 18 miles on just an electric charge. The $845,000 vehicle is not a consumer-targeted vehicle but a brand statement. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins