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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Antimatter atoms could be exactly manipulated and cooled with lasers

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Artist’s impression of antimatter being manipulated by lasers

Chukman So/TRIUMF

Certainly one of our most exact mechanisms for controlling matter has now been utilized to antimatter atoms for the primary time. Laser cooling, which slows the movement of particles to allow them to be measured extra exactly, could make antihydrogen atoms decelerate by an order of magnitude.

Antimatter particles have the identical mass as particles of odd matter, however the reverse cost. An antihydrogen atom is made out of an antiproton and a positron, the antimatter equal of an electron. Makoto Fujiwara at TRIUMF, Canada’s nationwide particle accelerator centre, and his colleagues used an antihydrogen trapping experiment referred to as ALPHA-2 on the CERN particle physics lab close to Geneva, Switzerland, to create clouds of about 1000 antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic lure.


The crew developed a laser that shoots particles of sunshine referred to as photons on the proper wavelength to decelerate any anti-atoms that occur to be shifting instantly in direction of the laser, slowing them down little by little. “It’s type of like we’re taking pictures a tiny ball on the atom, and the ball may be very small, so the slowing down on this collision may be very small, however we do it many instances after which finally the massive atom might be slowed down,” says Fujiwara.

The group managed to gradual the anti-atoms down by greater than an element of 10. Laser cooling is usually used to measure vitality transitions – the motion of electrons to totally different vitality ranges – in common atoms, and for cooled antihydrogen atoms, the crew’s measurement of this was almost thrice as exact because it was with uncooled anti-atoms.

“That is actually an thrilling milestone for us, however what’s much more thrilling is the issues that this permits us to do sooner or later – the brand new sorts of measurements and experiments that had been unthinkable earlier than with antimatter,” says Fujiwara. Most of those potentialities are associated to the extraordinarily exact measurements that should be made to seek for any tiny variations in the behaviour of matter and antimatter.

Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03289-6

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