Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Quantum leap: Magnetic properties of a single proton directly observed for the first time

Date:
June 22, 2011
Source:
Universität Mainz
Summary:
An important milestone in the direct measurement of the magnetic moment of the proton and its anti-particle has been achieved. Researchers have observed spin quantum-jumps with a single trapped proton for the first time. The result is a pioneering step forward in the endeavor to directly measure the magnetic properties of the proton with high precision.

Double-Penning trap for the storage of one individual proton and the detection of spin quantum-jumps.
Credit: © Holger Kracke

An important milestone in the direct measurement of the magnetic moment of the proton and its anti-particle has been achieved.

Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM), together with their colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg and the GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, have observed spin quantum-jumps with a single trapped proton for the first time. The result is a pioneering step forward in the endeavor to directly measure the magnetic properties of the proton with high precision. The measuring principle is based on the observation of a single proton stored in an electromagnetic particle trap. As it would also be possible to observe an anti-proton using the same method, the prospect that an explanation for the matter-antimatter imbalance in the universe could be found has become a reality. It is essential to be able to analyze antimatter in detail if we are to understand why matter and antimatter did not completely cancel each other out after the Big Bang - in other words, if we are to comprehend how the universe actually came into existence.

The proton has an intrinsic angular momentum or spin, just like other particles. It is like a tiny bar magnet; in this analogy, a spin quantum jump would correspond to a (switch) flip of the magnetic poles. However, detecting the proton spin is a major challenge. While the magnetic moments of the electron and its anti-particle, the positron, were already being measured and compared in the 1980s, this has yet to be achieved in the case of the proton. "We have long been aware of the magnetic moment of the proton, but it has thus far not been observed directly for a single proton but only in the case of particle ensembles," explains Stefan Ulmer, a member of the work group headed by Professor Dr  Jochen Walz at the Institute of Physics at the new Helmholtz Institute Mainz.

The real problem is that the magnetic moment of the proton is 660 times smaller than that of the electron, which means that it is considerably harder to detect. It has taken the collaborative research team five years to prepare an experiment that would be precise enough to pass the crucial test. "At last we have successfully demonstrated the detection of the spin direction of a single trapped proton," says an exultant Ulmer, a stipendiary of the International Max Planck Research School for Quantum Dynamics in Heidelberg.

This opens the way for direct high-precision measurements of the magnetic moments of both the proton and the anti-proton. The latter is likely to be undertaken at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics in Geneva, or at FLAIR/GSI in Darmstadt. The magnetic moment of the anti-proton is currently only known to three decimal places. The method used at the laboratories in Mainz aims at a millionfold improvement of the measuring accuracy and should represent a new highly sensitive test of the matter-antimatter symmetry. This first observation of the spin quantum jumps of a single proton is a crucial milestone in the pursuit of this aim.

Matter-antimatter symmetry is one of the pillars of the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. According to this model, particles and anti-particles should behave identically once inversions of charge, parity and time - referred to as CPT transformation – are applied simultaneously. High-precision comparisons of the fundamental properties of particles and anti-particles make it possible to accurately determine whether this symmetrical behavior actually occurs, and may provide the basis for theories that extend beyond the Standard Model. Assuming that a difference between the magnetic moments of protons and anti-protons could be detected, this would open up a window on this "new physics".

The results obtained by the Mainz cooperative research team were published online in the journal Physical Review Letters. The article is presented as an "Editor's Suggestion." Furthermore, the American Physical Society (APS) presents the article as "Viewpoint."

The research work carried out by the team of Professor Dr Jochen Walz on anti-hydrogen and the magnetic moment of protons forms part of the "Precision Physics, Fundamental Interactions and Structure of Matter" (PRISMA) Cluster of Excellence, which is currently applying for future sponsorship under the German Federal Excellence Initiative.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universität Mainz. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. Ulmer, C. Rodegheri, K. Blaum, H. Kracke, A. Mooser, W. Quint, J. Walz. Observation of Spin Flips with a Single Trapped Proton. Physical Review Letters, 2011; 106 (25) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.106.253001

Cite This Page:

Universität Mainz. "Quantum leap: Magnetic properties of a single proton directly observed for the first time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621101329.htm>.
Universität Mainz. (2011, June 22). Quantum leap: Magnetic properties of a single proton directly observed for the first time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621101329.htm
Universität Mainz. "Quantum leap: Magnetic properties of a single proton directly observed for the first time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110621101329.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Flower Power! Dandelions Make Car Tires?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 20, 2014) — Forget rolling on rubber, could car drivers soon be traveling on tires made from dandelions? Teams of scientists are racing to breed a type of the yellow flower whose taproot has a milky fluid with tire-grade rubber particles in it. As Joanna Partridge reports, global tire makers are investing millions in research into a new tire source. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) — Scientists have developed a new device that mimics the way octopuses blend in with their surroundings to hide from dangerous predators. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) — Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) — A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
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