For the first time physicists at CERN have observed a benchmark atomic energy transition in anithydrogen, an important step towards cooling and manipulation of the basic form of antimatter.
"The Lyman-alpha transition is the most elementary, important transition in regular hydrogen atoms, and to capture the same phenomenon in anti-hydrogen, a new era in antimatter science is opening up," says Takamasa Momose, chemist and physicist at the University of British Columbia develops the laser system that is used to manipulate anithydrogen.
"This approach is a gateway to cooling anti-hydrogen, which will significantly improve the precision of our measurements and enable us to test how antimatter and gravity interact with each other, which is still a mystery."
The results are published in Nature.
Antimatter, destroyed by impact with matter, is notoriously difficult to record and work with. But its study is the key to solving one of the great mysteries of the universe: why antimatter, which at the time of the Big Bang had existed as much as matter, has almost disappeared.
"This brings us a little closer to answering some of these big questions in physics," says Makoto Fujiwara, Canadian spokesperson for CERN's ALPHA anti-hydride research collaboration, and a physicist at TRIUMF, Canada's particle accelerator center. . "In recent decades, scientists have revolutionized atomic physics with the help of optical manipulation and laser cooling, and with this result we can begin to apply the same tools to investigate the mysteries of antimatter."
An anti-hydrogen atom, consisting of an antiproton and positron, is the antimatter counterpart of a hydrogen atom, made from a single proton with a circulating electron.