Swansea University researchers lead CERN study

A team of scientists from Swansea University recently carried what, it claims, is the most precise and accurate measurement ever done on antimatter.

Leading the Alpha Collaboration at the European Organisation of Nuclear Research (CERN), the researchers said the discovery reveals the spectral structure of the antihydrogen atom in “unprecedented detail”.

They recently detailed the collaborative effort in an article published in the academic journal Nature. The project has spanned three decades of research and development at CERN.

Antimatters are usually made from the antiparticle of an ordinary matter. In this particular study, the scientists focused their attention on antihydrogen, which is the antimatter variant of hydrogen.

However, trying to measure and trap samples of the atom can prove difficult. The Alpha team was able to overcome past challenges by using CERN’s Antiproton Decelerator, which combines them with positrons before creating Antihydrogen atoms.

Niels Madsen, deputy spokesperson for the ALPHA experiment and professor at Swansea University, said: “The precision achieved in the latest study is the ultimate accomplishment for us. We have been trying to achieve this precision for 30 years and have finally done it.”

The scientists explained that “although the precision still falls short of that for ordinary hydrogen, the rapid progress made by ALPHA suggests hydrogen-like precision in antihydrogen are now within reach”.

Michael Charlton, who also worked on the project, said the results are groundbreaking. “This is real laser spectroscopy with antimatter, and the matter community will take notice,” he commented

“We are realizing the whole promise of CERN’s AD facility; it’s a paradigm change. This is a dream come true. Now we have our sight firmly set on improving the precision further to match experiments with ordinary hydrogen.

“This will be a formidable challenge but with the fantastic team we currently have I’m confident we will make progress” commented Professor Stefan Eriksson, Swansea University.”

The laser team also consisted of Dr Steven Jones, who recently completed a PhD project on antihydrogen spectroscopy at Swansea University.