Antimatter – What’s the Difference?
Matter has become a hot topic in terms of discovery. On the atomic scale, antimatter is similar to ordinary matter. The difference is that it is charged in the opposite direction. As a result, when the two meet, they wipe each other out. Because of this property, it is difficult to manufacture and even more difficult to analyse.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia’s ALPHA (Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus) at CERN have found a way to use a laser to lower antimatter’s temperature to near absolute zero. Physicists would be able to research the reactive substance more effectively as a result of this discovery. Antihydrogen atoms are slowed to almost zero Kelvin temperature, allowing scientists to take more accurate measurements and conduct experiments with them.
What does Researcher say?
UBC’s Takamasa Momose, who led development on the laser says “We can answer long-standing questions like, ‘How does antimatter react to gravity with this technique. Can antimatter aid our understanding of physics symmetries? These responses can have a huge effect on our understanding of the Universe.”
For the past 40 years, physicists have used lasers to cool and manipulate atoms. The technique has resulted in spectacular atomic physics breakthroughs, with some of the work winning Nobel Prizes. However, this is the first time that the mechanism has been successfully extended to antimatter.
Mad Dream but True
“Manipulation of antimatter with laser was a bit of a mad dream,” said Makoto Fujiwara, a spokesperson for ALPHA-Canada and the initial proponent of the laser cooling idea. “I am ecstatic that our dream has finally come true thanks to the amazing cooperation of Canadian and foreign scientists.”
Researchers are worried about the potential opportunities due to the enthusiasm around the discovery. Momose and Fujiwara have already proposed the “HAICU” project, which aims to develop new quantum techniques for studying antimatter.
New Quantum Measurements Lying ahead
“My next ambition is to build an anti-atom ‘fountain’ by launching laser-cooled antimatter into free space. If realised, it would open the door to a whole new class of quantum measurements previously unimaginable “Fujiwara explained.
Momose also suggests that by freezing antiatoms together, they may be able to produce the first-ever antimolecule.
This accomplishment is only the most recent in ALPHA’s decades-long study. Researchers set a world record in 2011 by trapping an antihydrogen atom for 1,000 seconds, according to UBC Science. In 2012, they mapped the antihydrogen spectrum, and in 2013, they developed “guardrails” for limiting gravity’s effects on antimatter.