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Home Science Antimatter atoms can be precisely manipulated and cooled with lasers

Antimatter atoms can be precisely manipulated and cooled with lasers

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Artist’s impression of antimatter being manipulated by lasers

Chukman So/TRIUMF

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 in order that they can be measured extra precisely, can 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 known as ALPHA-2 on the CERN particle physics lab close to Geneva, Switzerland, to create clouds of about 1000 antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic entice.


The group developed a laser that shoots particles of sunshine known as photons on the proper wavelength to decelerate any anti-atoms that occur to be shifting straight in direction of the laser, slowing them down little by little. “It’s kind of like we’re shooting a tiny ball at the atom, and the ball is very small, so the slowing down in this collision is very small, but we do it many times and then eventually the big atom will be slowed down,” says Fujiwara.

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

“This is really an exciting milestone for us, but what’s even more exciting is the things that this allows us to do in the future – the new kinds of measurements and experiments that were unthinkable before with antimatter,” says Fujiwara. Most of those prospects are associated to the extraordinarily exact measurements that should be made to seek for any tiny variations within the behaviour of matter and antimatter.

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

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