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  • richardmitnick 9:02 am on August 26, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , CERN ALPHA Collaboration, , , , ,   

    From CERN via Science Alert: “Physicists Are Almost Able to Cool Antimatter. Here’s Why That’s a Big Deal” 

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    From CERN

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    Science Alert

    1
    (koto_feja/iStock)

    26 AUG 2018
    KRISTIN HOUSER

    Where is all the antimatter?

    We’re still figuring out what the heck antimatter even is, but scientists are already getting ready to fiddle with it.

    Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) are one step closer to cooling antimatter using lasers, a milestone that could help us crack its many mysteries.

    They published their research on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

    Antimatter is essentially the opposite of “normal” matter. While protons have a positive charge, their antimatter equivalents, antiprotons, have the same mass, but a negative charge.

    Electrons and their corresponding antiparticle, positrons, have the same mass — the only difference is that they have different charges (negative for electrons, positive for positrons).

    When a particle meets its antimatter equivalent, the two annihilate one another, canceling the other out.

    In theory, the Big Bang should have produced an equal amount of matter and antimatter, in which case, the two would have just annihilated one another.

    But that’s not what happened — the Universe seems to have way more matter than antimatter.

    Researchers have no idea why that is, and because antimatter is very difficult to study, they haven’t had much recourse for figuring it out.

    And that’s why CERN researchers are trying to cool antimatter off, so they can get a better look.

    Using a tool called the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA), the researchers combined antiprotons with positrons to form antihydrogen atoms.

    CERN ALPHA Antimatter Factory

    Then, they magnetically trapped hundreds of these atoms in a vacuum and zapped them with laser pulses. This caused the antihydrogen atoms to undergo something called the Lyman-alpha transition.

    “The Lyman-alpha transition is the most basic, important transition in regular hydrogen atoms, and to capture the same phenomenon in antihydrogen opens up a new era in antimatter science,” one of the researchers, Takamasa Momose, said in a university press release.

    According to Momose, this phase change is a critical first step toward cooling antihydrogen.

    Researchers have long used lasers to cool other atoms to make them easier to study. If we can do the same for antimatter atoms, we’ll be better able to study them.

    Scientists can take more accurate measurements, and they might even be able to solve another long-unsettled mystery: figuring out how antimatter interacts with gravity.

    For now, the team plans to continue working toward that goal of cooling antimatter. If they’re successful, they might be able to help unravel mysteries with answers critical to our understanding of the Universe.

    See the full article here.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:32 pm on August 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Antihydrogen atom, , , CERN ALPHA Collaboration, Finding any slight difference between the behaviour of antimatter and matter would rock the foundations of the Standard Model of particle physics and perhaps cast light on why the universe is made up , , Lyman-alpha electronic transition, ,   

    From CERN: “ALPHA experiment takes antimatter to a new level” 

    Cern New Bloc

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    From CERN

    22 Aug 2018
    Ana Lopes

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    Jeffrey Hangst, spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment, next to the experiment. (Image: Maximilien Brice, Julien Ordan/CERN)

    CERN ALPHA Antimatter Factory

    In a paper published today in the journal Nature, the ALPHA collaboration reports that it has literally taken antimatter to a new level. The researchers have observed the Lyman-alpha electronic transition in the antihydrogen atom, the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen, for the first time. The finding comes hot on the heels of recent measurements by the collaboration of another electronic transition, and demonstrates that ALPHA is quickly and steadily paving the way for precision experiments that could uncover as yet unseen differences between the behaviour of matter and antimatter.

    The Lyman-alpha (or 1S-2P) transition is one of several in the Lyman series of electronic transitions that were discovered in atomic hydrogen just over a century ago by physicist Theodore Lyman. The transition occurs when an electron jumps from the lowest-energy (1S) level to a higher-energy (2P) level and then falls back to the 1S level by emitting a photon at a wavelength of 121.6 nanometres.

    It is a special transition. In astronomy, it allows researchers to probe the state of the medium that lies between galaxies and test models of the cosmos. In antimatter studies, it could enable precision measurements of how antihydrogen responds to light and gravity. Finding any slight difference between the behaviour of antimatter and matter would rock the foundations of the Standard Model of particle physics and perhaps cast light on why the universe is made up almost entirely of matter, even though equal amounts of antimatter should have been produced in the Big Bang.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.


    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    The ALPHA team makes antihydrogen atoms by taking antiprotons from CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and binding them with positrons from a sodium-22 source. It then confines the resulting antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap, which prevents them from coming into contact with matter and annihilating. Laser light is then shone onto the trapped atoms to measure their spectral response. The measurement involves using a range of laser frequencies and counting the number of atoms that drop out of the trap as a result of interactions between the laser and the trapped atoms.

    The ALPHA collaboration has previously employed this technique to measure the so-called 1S-2S transition. Using the same approach and a series of laser wavelengths around 121.6 nanometres, ALPHA has now detected the Lyman-alpha transition in antihydrogen and measured its frequency with a precision of a few parts in a hundred million, obtaining good agreement with the equivalent transition in hydrogen.

    This precision is not as high as that achieved in hydrogen, but the finding represents a pivotal technological step towards using the Lyman-alpha transition to chill large samples of antihydrogen using a technique known as laser cooling. Such samples would allow researchers to bring the precision of this and other measurements of antihydrogen to a level at which any differences between the behaviour of antihydrogen and hydrogen might emerge.

    “We are really excited about this result,” says Jeffrey Hangst, spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment. “The Lyman-alpha transition is notoriously difficult to probe – even in ‘normal’ hydrogen. But by exploiting our ability to trap and hold large numbers of antihydrogen atoms for several hours, and using a pulsed source of Lyman-alpha laser light, we were able to observe this transition. Next up is laser cooling, which will be a game-changer for precision spectroscopy and gravitational measurements.”

    See the full article here.


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  • richardmitnick 2:10 pm on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new era of precision for antimatter research, , , , , CERN ALPHA Collaboration, , , ,   

    From CERN ALPHA: “A new era of precision for antimatter research” 

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    4 Apr 2018
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    ALPHA experiment (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    The ALPHA collaboration has reported the most precise direct measurement of antimatter ever made, revealing the spectral structure of the antihydrogen atom in unprecedented colour. The result, published today in Nature, is the culmination of three decades of research and development at CERN, and opens a completely new era of high-precision tests between matter and antimatter.

    The humble hydrogen atom, comprising a single electron orbiting a single proton, is a giant in fundamental physics, underpinning the modern atomic picture. Its spectrum is characterised by well-known spectral lines at certain wavelengths, corresponding to the emission of photons of a certain frequency or colour when electrons jump between different orbits. Measurements of the hydrogen spectrum agree with theoretical predictions at the level of a few parts in a quadrillion (1015) — a stunning achievement that antimatter researchers have long sought to match for antihydrogen.

    Comparing such measurements with those of antihydrogen atoms, which comprise an antiproton orbited by a positron, tests a fundamental symmetry called charge-parity-time (CPT) invariance. Finding any slight difference between the two would rock the foundations of the Standard Model of particle physics and perhaps shed light on why the universe is made up almost entirely of matter, even though equal amounts of antimatter should have been created in the Big Bang.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.


    Standard Model of Particle Physics from Symmetry Magazine

    Until now, however, it has been all but impossible to produce and trap sufficient numbers of delicate antihydrogen atoms, and to acquire the necessary optical interrogation technology, to make serious antihydrogen spectroscopy possible.

    The ALPHA team makes antihydrogen atoms by taking antiprotons from CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and binding them with positrons from a sodium-22 source.

    CERN Antiproton Decelerator

    Next it confines the resulting antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap, which prevents them from coming into contact with matter and annihilating. Laser light is then shone onto the trapped antihydrogen atoms, their response measured and finally compared with that of hydrogen.

    In 2016, the ALPHA team used this approach to measure the frequency of the electronic transition between the lowest-energy state and the first excited state (the so-called 1S to 2S transition) of antihydrogen with a precision of a couple of parts in ten billion, finding good agreement with the equivalent transition in hydrogen. The measurement involved using two laser frequencies — one matching the frequency of the 1S–2S transition in hydrogen and another “detuned” from it — and counting the number of atoms that dropped out of the trap as a result of interactions between the laser and the trapped atoms.

    The latest result from ALPHA takes antihydrogen spectroscopy to the next level, using not just one but several detuned laser frequencies, with slightly lower and higher frequencies than the 1S–2S transition frequency in hydrogen. This allowed the team to measure the spectral shape, or spread in colours, of the 1S–2S antihydrogen transition and get a more precise measurement of its frequency. The shape matches that expected for hydrogen extremely well, and ALPHA was able to determine the 1S–2S antihydrogen transition frequency to a precision of a couple of parts in a trillion—a factor of 100 better than the 2016 measurement.

    “The precision achieved in the latest study is the ultimate accomplishment for us,” explains Jeffrey Hangst, spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment. “We have been trying to achieve this precision for 30 years and have finally done it.”

    Although the precision still falls short of that for ordinary hydrogen, the rapid progress made by ALPHA suggests hydrogen-like precision in antihydrogen — and thus unprecedented tests of CPT symmetry — are now within reach. “This is real laser spectroscopy with antimatter, and the matter community will take notice,” adds Hangst. “We are realising the whole promise of CERN’s AD facility; it’s a paradigm change.”


    ALPHA spokesperson Jeffrey Hangst explains the new results. (Video: Jacques Fichet/CERN)

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 12:20 pm on August 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN ALPHA Collaboration, , , ,   

    From CERN ALPHA: “The ALPHA experiment explores the secrets of antimatter” 

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    CERN

    3 Aug 2017
    Stefania Pandolfi

    1
    Alpha Experiment (Image: Maximilien Brice/CERN)

    In a paper published today in Nature, the ALPHA experiment at CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator reports the first observation of the hyperfine structure of antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen. These findings point the way to ever more detailed analyses of the structure of antihydrogen and could help understand any differences between matter and antimatter.

    The researchers conducted spectroscopy measurements on homemade antihydrogen atoms, which drive transitions between different energy states of the anti-atoms. They could in this way improve previous measurements by identifying and measuring two spectral lines of antihydrogen. Spectroscopy is a way to probe the internal structure of atoms by studying their interaction with electromagnetic radiation.

    In 2012, the ALPHA experiment demonstrated for the first time the technical ability to measure the internal structure of atoms of antimatter. In 2016, the team reported the first observation of an optical transition of antihydrogen. By exposing antihydrogen atoms to microwaves at a precise frequency, they have now induced hyperfine transitions and refined their measurements. The team were able to measure two spectral lines for antihydrogen, and observe no difference compared to the equivalent spectral lines for hydrogen, within experimental limits.

    “Spectroscopy is a very important tool in all areas of physics. We are now entering a new era as we extend spectroscopy to antimatter,” said Jeffrey Hangst, Spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment. “With our unique techniques, we are now able to observe the detailed structure of antimatter atoms in hours rather than weeks, something we could not even imagine a few years ago.”

    With their trapping techniques, ALPHA are now able to trap a significant number of antiatoms – up to 74 at a time – thereby facilitating precision measurements. With this new result, the ALPHA collaboration has clearly demonstrated the maturity of its techniques for probing the properties of antimatter atoms.

    The rapid progress of CERN’s experiments at the unique Antiproton Decelerator facility is very promising for ever more precise measurements to be carried out in the near future.

    CERN Antiproton Decelerator

    See the full article here.

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    Meet CERN in a variety of places:

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    THE FOUR MAJOR PROJECT COLLABORATIONS

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  • richardmitnick 2:27 pm on January 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CERN ALPHA Collaboration,   

    From UBC: “Behind ALPHA – UBC PHAS ALPHA members’ contributions” 

    U British Columbia bloc

    University of British Columbia

    2017-01-06
    No writer credit

    Since ALPHA – the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus Collaboration – first trapped and stored antihydrogen atoms in 2010, the international team has been making strides in advancing our understanding of antimatter.

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    AlphaCollaborationCERN ALPHA New
    CERN/ALPHA

    Just last month, results from their spectroscopic measurements were published in Nature. This brings us closer to learning why – if matter and antimatter were created equally during the Big Bang, where is all the antimatter? Among the 52 co-authors from 15 institutions in Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Sweden, UK, and the USA, we want to take an opportunity to recognize UBC PHAS ALPHA members’ contributions to the 1S-2S laser spectroscopy in ALPHA-2.

    Andrea Gutierrez was ALPHA-Canada collaboration spokesperson and TRIUMF Research Scientist Dr. Makoto Fujiwara’s graduate student, and recently graduated from PHAS with a PhD. She assisted in the construction of the ALPHA-2 apparatus, and in particular, she led the commissioning of the ALPHA-2 Catching Trap. She also developed a novel compression scheme for antiproton clouds, and participated in the analysis of particle detector data.

    Matt Grant, former PHAS Engineering Physics Program student, just started as graduate student at Stanford this fall. He did one co-op term with the ALPHA team, and then won a CERN summer student fellowship spending the summer 2015 at CERN, working on a laser imaging system.

    PHAS Professor Emeritus Walter Hardy and his graduate student Nathan Evetts, along with Professor Michael Hayden of SFU, have had responsibility for all microwave aspects of the experiment. In particular (along with PhD student Tim Friesen of Calgary), they conceived and implemented in-situ magnetometry via microwave heating of plasma modes of electrons in the ALPHA-2 electrode stack. This procedure was used extensively in the experiments.

    Walter and Nathan also conceived and fabricated novel cryogenic microwave filter tubes for the laser beam paths in the experiment. Eight of these tubes were installed for the 1S-2S laser spectroscopy experiment.

    Professor Takamasa Momose (Chemistry and PHAS) and his former PhD student, Mario Michan have had responsibility for the development of a Lyman-Alpha laser system for laser cooling of antihydrogen, which is necessary to improve the precision of the 1S-2S laser spectroscopy. Mario completed his PhD in January2014, and then worked at TRIUMF as a post-doc until April 2016.

    It is also worth mentioning that Makoto and Michael are both UBC PHAS alumni!

    Congratulations again, ALPHA team, on this tremendous breakthrough. We look forward to more discoveries in the year to come!

    See the full article here .

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    U British Columbia Campus

    The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the 40 best universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s West Coast spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. Its entrepreneurial perspective encourages students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

     
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