Antimatter study to benefit from recipe for ten-fold spatial compression of plasma (Vol. 49 No.5-6)

Example of raw images from the detector for identical particle operations with antiproton detection (left) and electron detection (right)

Improving the spatial compression of a mixed matter-antimatter trapped plasma brings us one step closer to grasping the acceleration of antimatter due to Earth’s gravity.

An international team of physicists studying antimatter have now derived an improved way of spatially compressing a state of matter called non-neutral plasma, which is made up of a type of antimatter particles, called antiprotons, trapped together with matter particles, like electrons. The new compression solution, which is based on rotating the plasma in a trapped cavity using centrifugal forces like a salad spinner, is more effective than all previous approaches. In this study published recently, the team shows that — under specific conditions — a ten-fold compression of the size of the antiproton cloud, down to a radius of only 0.17 millimetres, is possible. These findings can be applied in the field of low-energy antimatter research, charged particle traps and plasma physics. Further, this work is part of a larger research project, called AEgIS, which is intended to achieve the first direct measurement of the gravitational effect on an antimatter system. The ultimate goal of the project, which is being pursued at CERN, the Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, is to measure the acceleration of antimatter — namely antihydrogen — due to Earth’s gravity with a precision of 1%.

S. Aghion and 61 co-authors, Compression of a mixed antiproton and electron non-neutral plasma to high densities, Eur. Phys. Jour. D 72, 76 (2018)