Canadian-led study akin to antimatter forensics

August 04, 2017

A Canadian-led investigation has opened a new chapter in antimatter research.

In a study published today in Nature, the ALPHA Collaboration reports the first detailed observation of spectral lines from an antimatter atom.

"Spectral lines are like fingerprints," says lead author Michael Hayden, a Simon Fraser University (SFU) physics professor. "Every element has its own unique pattern."

There is one (possible) exception: matter and antimatter are believed to be mirror images of one another, and so the spectral lines of antimatter atoms should be precisely the same as those of their normal atom counterparts. Whether or not this is true is unknown. Until now, scientists have only had glimpses of antimatter spectral lines, and comparisons with normal matter spectral lines have been coarse.

The ALPHA Collaboration studies antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of the ordinary hydrogen atom. Their experimental results show a particular set of spectral lines in antihydrogen match those in hydrogen very well. The team plans to zoom in much closer to check if subtle discrepancies exist between the two atoms on a yet finer scale.

Conducted at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, the research involves irradiating antihydrogen atoms with microwaves, similar to those used to communicate with satellites. When this is done, the anti-atoms reveal their identity by emitting or absorbing energy at very specific frequencies. That pattern, or spectrum, of frequencies corresponds to the "fingerprint" described by Hayden.

"One of the challenges we face is that matter and antimatter annihilate when they come into contact with one another," says Justine Munich, an SFU physics PhD candidate. "We have to keep them apart. We can't just put our anti-atoms into an ordinary container. They have to be trapped or held inside a special magnetic bottle."

"By studying the properties of anti-atoms we hope to learn more about the universe in which we live," says Hayden. "We can make antimatter in the lab, but it doesn't seem to exist naturally except in miniscule quantities. Why is this? We simply don't know. But perhaps antihydrogen can give us some clues."
-end-
About the ALPHA Collaboration:

ALPHA is a collaboration of about 50 physicists from 17 institutions in Canada, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA. ALPHA-Canada comprises about 40 per cent of the ALPHA Collaboration. It currently consists of ten senior scientists, four postdoctoral researchers and five graduate students from five Canadian institutions. Twenty-three out of 54 co-authors in the reported work are presently or formerly with ALPHA-Canada: Michael Hayden, Justine Munich (Simon Fraser University), Nathan Evetts, Andrea Gutierrez, Walter Hardy, Taka Momose (University of British Columbia), Andrew Evans, Tim Friesen, Chukman So, Robert Thompson (University of Calgary), Melissa Mathers, James Thompson, Scott Menary (York University), Andrea Capra, Robert Collister, Joseph McKenna, Mario Michan, Makoto Fujiwara, David Gill, Leonid Kurchaninov, Konstantin Olchanski, Art Olin, Simone Stracka (TRIUMF).

ABOUT SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY:

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded more than 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university--to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada's leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities - Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey - SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 145,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.

Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

Simon Fraser University

Related Hydrogen Articles from Brightsurf:

Solar hydrogen: let's consider the stability of photoelectrodes
As part of an international collaboration, a team at the HZB has examined the corrosion processes of high-quality BiVO4 photoelectrodes using different state-of-the-art characterisation methods.

Hydrogen vehicles might soon become the global norm
Roughly one billion cars and trucks zoom about the world's roadways.

Hydrogen economy with mass production of high-purity hydrogen from ammonia
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has made an announcement about the technology to extract high-purity hydrogen from ammonia and generate electric power in conjunction with a fuel cell developed by a team led by Young Suk Jo and Chang Won Yoon from the Center for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Research.

Superconductivity: It's hydrogen's fault
Last summer, it was discovered that there are promising superconductors in a special class of materials, the so-called nickelates.

Hydrogen energy at the root of life
A team of international researchers in Germany, France and Japan is making progress on answering the question of the origin of life.

Hydrogen alarm for remote hydrogen leak detection
Tomsk Polytechnic University jointly with the University of Chemistry and Technology of Prague proposed new sensors based on widely available optical fiber to ensure accurate detection of hydrogen molecules in the air.

Preparing for the hydrogen economy
In a world first, University of Sydney researchers have found evidence of how hydrogen causes embrittlement of steels.

Hydrogen boride nanosheets: A promising material for hydrogen carrier
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tsukuba, and colleagues in Japan report a promising hydrogen carrier in the form of hydrogen boride nanosheets.

World's fastest hydrogen sensor could pave the way for clean hydrogen energy
Hydrogen is a clean and renewable energy carrier that can power vehicles, with water as the only emission.

Chemical hydrogen storage system
Hydrogen is a highly attractive, but also highly explosive energy carrier, which requires safe, lightweight and cheap storage as well as transportation systems.

Read More: Hydrogen News and Hydrogen Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.