Coldest Antimatter Ever Produced

Coldest Antimatter Ever Produced
Credit: CERN Geneva

(PhysOrg.com) -- Physicists working at the CERN nuclear research lab on the border of Switzerland and France have generated the coldest particles of antimatter ever recorded.

The team cooled down antiprotons to temperatures colder than the surface of Pluto, as low as -443 degrees F (9.26 kelvin) -- just 17 degrees above absolute zero. Physicists studying cold hope to ultimately glean insights into why the universe is made of matter rather than antimatter.

In order to study this problem in depth, the team would need to combine cold antiprotons with an electron's antimatter partner, known as a positron, to form cooled atoms of antihydrogen. In this way physicists will be able to hold the neutral atoms in magnetic traps and analyze the behavior of antimatter more carefully.

" is one of the most studied systems in physics," said Jeff Hangst, spokesperson for the group responsible for antimatter research at low temperatures at , in Geneva. "We would like to do the same kinds of precision measurements in the antimatter spectrum."

The anti-hydrogen cooler collects a large number of particles in a magnetic trap with an open top. Over time, the most energetic particles will bounce out of the trap, while particles with less energy remain trapped. The trap is gradually shrunk so that progressively cooler particles can escape, ultimately leaving behind only the very coldest particles.

"It's the same principle that cools your coffee while it sits on the table," said Hangst, referring to the way the hottest in your coffee evaporate away first, leaving cooler ones behind.

The previous record for the coldest antimatter was set in 1989 by a team at Harvard University who cooled antiprotons down to about -272 F (104.3 kelvin).

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Jul 06, 2010
The team cooled down antiprotons to temperatures colder than the surface of Pluto, as low as -443 degrees F (9.26 kelvin) -- just 17 degrees above absolute zero.
Anyone else see the problem here?

Jul 06, 2010
Anyone else see the problem here?


um, yeah... isn't 9.26 kelvin "just 9.26 degrees above absolute zero"?

In any case they should have put "just 9.26 degrees
(insert metric here e.g Kelvin) above absolute zero"... to stipulate the metric used.

Anyway, magnetic traps are great :-)


Jul 06, 2010
"um, yeah... isn't 9.26 kelvin 'just 9.26 degrees above absolute zero'?"

To be pedantic, no. If you're talking degrees, then you're not talking Kelvin. The Kelvin scale doesn't use the degree qualifier.

Jul 06, 2010
i'm glad you are all here to clear that up.

Jul 07, 2010
Anyone else see the problem here?


um, yeah... isn't 9.26 kelvin "just 9.26 degrees above absolute zero"?

In any case they should have put "just 9.26 degrees
(insert metric here e.g Kelvin) above absolute zero"... to stipulate the metric used.


they probably mean 17 degrees farenheit. the original measure was in farenheit. that way the argument about kelvin being degrees or not is now resolved. they do mean degrees. they just assumed we understood it was farenheit. just like they assumed that we knew they meant the temperature of the antiproton, not the temperature of Pluto, which was also mentioned.

Jul 07, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Jul 07, 2010
One thing is for certain, this news service took info from CERN which was certainly released using SI units and then converted them all to farenheit. But why? so we americans could better understand just how cold? I'm sorry but i dont think farenheit helps me understand 9.26K. "Cold" doesnt do 9K justice. Temperatures that low have long since stopped being relatable to human sensation.

Anyway, if your going to publish a science news story, use SI units. If your giving a weather update, use farenheit.

Jul 07, 2010
Anyway, if your going to publish a science news story, use SI units. If your giving a weather update, use farenheit.


Indeed, but they never listen ...


Jul 07, 2010
Wow. The people commenting on this site are exactly like the guys in the show "Big Bang Theory." I mean this in the nicest way possible, but what a bunch of nerds.

Jul 07, 2010
Wow. The people commenting on this site are exactly like the guys in the show "Big Bang Theory." I mean this in the nicest way possible, but what a bunch of nerds.

Just say something about God and the stupid ones will come out of the woodwork.

Jul 07, 2010
Doesn't Data have a Positronic brain? No wonder he's so cool-headed.

Jul 11, 2010
I'm curious, is antimatter containment possible only due to the extremely low temperatures? Wouldn't it want to "react" with normal matter immediately upon production? I would assume antimatter is produced in some scenario where a lot of energy is released, which would definitely raise the temperatures and cause it to annihilate right away, or does antimatter survive for a period of time? Sorry, antimatter noob here!

Jul 11, 2010
Anti-matter has predictable electromagnetic properties which allow for magnetic confinement. But yes, their temperature when created is VERY high and it takes quite a good deal of anti-mater collection in order to have much left over after evaporating enough off to achieve these temperatures.

Jul 11, 2010
And despite what you may have seen in Angles and Demons, we are nowhere near good enough at anti-mater collection to create a bomb out of it.

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