How is antimatter examined?

New method for studying antimatter

August 14, 2014

Physicists prove the smallest deflections of an antiproton beam

With experiments in the field of antimatter, scientists from an international collaboration have succeeded in deflecting an antiproton beam minimally along its path and in recording this deviation - smaller than the diameter of a human hair - in one measurement. It was also possible to determine how great the electromagnetic force was that led to this very small deflection. "Precise investigations of this kind represent a great challenge for research in view of the difficulty of producing antimatter, but open up ways to clarify fundamental questions about fundamental symmetries in nature", explains the physicist Prof. Dr. Markus Oberthaler from the University of Heidelberg, who and his team played a key role in the work at the CERN research center in Geneva.

The investigations were carried out as part of the AEgIS collaboration at CERN. The Antiproton Decelerator was used here. This antiproton decelerator - a kind of storage ring - has the task of decelerating the antiprotons generated by a particle accelerator and making them available for experiments. In the observable world, antimatter is very short-lived because when a particle-antiparticle pair meets, both “annihilate” each other. Antimatter and matter completely dissipate into smaller particles and energy. This process is known as annihilation.

For their investigations, the scientists used a method called moiré deflectometry. Two grids were placed in a beam of antiprotons. Their fine crevices were arranged in such a way that only certain particles could pass through them, whereby the antiprotons then deviated slightly in direction. After passing the grids, the particles were detected with an emulsion detector. This is a kind of photographic film that enables recordings of annihilation - that is, captures the moment at which antimatter and matter meet and are radiated.

"In future experiments, this method could be used to measure the gravity of anti-hydrogen - a force that is significantly smaller than the electromagnetic force that was recorded here," explains Philippe Bräunig, who is a doctoral student in Markus' synthetic quantum systems group Oberthaler contributed to the research. Scientists from Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Austria, Russia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland were involved in the interdisciplinary investigations within the framework of the AEgIS collaboration. The results were published in "Nature Communications".

Original publication:
S. Aghion, O. Ahlén, C. Amsler, A. Ariga, T. Ariga, AS Belov, K. Berggren, G. Bonomi, P. Bräunig, J. Bremer, RS Brusa, L. Cabaret, C. Canali, R. Caravita, F. Castelli, G. Cerchiari, S. Cialdi, D. Comparat, G. Consolati, H. Derking et al .: A moiré deflectometer for antimatter. Nature Communications 5, 4538 (published online 28 July 2014), doi: 10.1038 / ncomms5538

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Last change: 08/14/2014