Researchers propose method for measuring gravitational impact on antimatter

April 3, 2014 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org weblog

Researchers propose method for measuring gravitational impact on antimatter
Credit: Chukman So/ Physics
(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, is proposing a possible way to measure gravity's impact on antimatter atoms. In their paper published in Physical Review Letters, the team describes how a procedure using an interferometer and super-cooled antihydrogen atoms could theoretically reveal how antimatter reacts to the force of gravity.

Because is so scarce, little is known about its properties, including whether it responds to gravity in the same way as matter. In principle, testing whether antimatter responds the same way as everyday matter should be relatively straight forward—drop some of it and see if it falls down, or up, or does neither. That hasn't happened yet for two reasons. The first is that antimatter is extremely rare—gathering enough to form a clump to drop has been impossible. The second reason is that antimatter is annihilated when coming into contact with matter, making it extremely difficult to collect, hold and perform experiments on. In this new effort the research team believes it has found a way to overcome both problems with an experiment that should reveal for the first time, how antimatter atoms respond to gravity.

The teams' idea is to use such as those produced at CERN (a team there is able to produce antihydrogen atoms at a pace of one every fifteen minutes). The antimatter atoms would be chilled to one degree above then herded to an interferometer using light. Because of the extreme cold, the antimatter atoms' behavior would change to resemble that of waves, rather than particles—by noting how the waves interact with one another, their reaction to the force of gravity could be measured.

Because they would have so few antihydrogen atoms to work with, the team suggests magnets could be used to corral the atoms inside the interferometer, allowing for measuring each many times rather than measuring many atoms just once each. They also propose that their scheme should allow for measuring the impact of gravity on antihydrogen atoms to approximately 1 percent accuracy at the onset, but subsequent tweaking should improve that 10,000 times over.

Gaining a better understanding of the impact of gravity on antimatter could provide not only a better understanding of such material, but perhaps could also provide some new insights into the nature of , which after years of study, is still mostly a mystery.

Explore further: The debut of the antihydrogen beam

More information: Antimatter Interferometry for Gravity Measurements, Phys. Rev. Lett. 112, 121102. Published 25 March 2014. journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/ … ysRevLett.112.121102 . On Arxiv: arxiv.org/abs/1308.1079

Related Stories

The debut of the antihydrogen beam

March 7, 2014

The standard model of particle physics suggests that matter and antimatter are equal and opposite in every way. Yet the observable Universe is made almost entirely of matter—an asymmetry that remains one of the greatest ...

Antimatter sticks around

September 22, 2011

By successfully confining atoms of antihydrogen for an unprecedented 1,000 seconds, an international team of researchers called the ALPHA Collaboration has taken a step towards resolving one of the grand challenges of modern ...

Recommended for you

Scientists produce 3-D chemical maps of single bacteria

November 16, 2018

Scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory—have used ultrabright x-rays to image single bacteria ...

Bursting bubbles launch bacteria from water to air

November 15, 2018

Wherever there's water, there's bound to be bubbles floating at the surface. From standing puddles, lakes, and streams, to swimming pools, hot tubs, public fountains, and toilets, bubbles are ubiquitous, indoors and out.

Terahertz laser pulses amplify optical phonons in solids

November 15, 2018

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg/Germany presents evidence of the amplification of optical phonons ...

9 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

arom
Apr 03, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Noumenon
4.2 / 5 (5) Apr 03, 2014
Because of the extreme cold, the antimatter atoms' behavior would change to resemble that of waves, rather than particles—by noting how the waves interact with one another, their reaction to the force of gravity could be measured.


Perhaps this will evolve to test the Penrose Interpretation of quantum superposition, ....
Hakan1997
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2014
Something I have never considered. Are the force particles made of matter or anti-matter? Or is the question meaningless? Gluons for instance?
Zwentoo
Apr 04, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Noumenon
4 / 5 (4) Apr 04, 2014
Something I have never considered. Are the force particles made of matter or anti-matter? Or is the question meaningless? Gluons for instance?


I think generally the bosons are their own anti-particle.
Gawad
5 / 5 (3) Apr 04, 2014
Something I have never considered. Are the force particles made of matter or anti-matter? Or is the question meaningless? Gluons for instance?


For bosons (the force particles, you are referring to) this simply depends on elementary (electric) charge, and since most have a charge of 0 then they are their own antiparticles. The W- boson has a charge of -1, though, so it has an antiparticle, W(plus).
Gawad
5 / 5 (2) Apr 04, 2014
The Zwentoo is also of ambivalent nature until it interacts with other posters. It then collapses to a state that carries an intrinsic negative charge.
russell_russell
not rated yet Apr 07, 2014
Particles being their own antiparticles accounts for how much on the balance sheet to balance the accounts of matter and antimatter?

How much in the red is antimatter?
How much is accounted for from particles being their own antiparticle?

These questions come from me - an interested bystander.
11791
Apr 07, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.