Accelerating antimatter research

An EU-funded project is probing antimatter, one of nature's great mysteries. In doing so, it is advancing technical developments in this research area, contributing to Europe's fundamental scientific knowledge and helping us understand the origins of the universe.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


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Published: 22 March 2019  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Energy
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Innovation
Pure sciencesPhysics
SMEs
Space
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Austria  |  Czechia  |  Denmark  |  France  |  Germany  |  Hungary  |  Japan  |  Slovenia  |  Switzerland  |  United Kingdom
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Accelerating antimatter research

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© Tryfonov #119258340, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com

Experiments to determine the nature of antimatter are at the cutting edge of science. They are, however, very difficult to realise and have been limited by the performance of the only existing facility in the world, the antiproton decelerator at CERN, Switzerland.

The EU-funded AVA project is enabling new antimatter experiments, probing some of the fundamental laws of nature and providing answers about how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to its present state. It is hoped that the training and research network will pave the way for entirely new studies not previously possible. The network takes advantage of the brand new Extra Low Energy Antimatter ring (ELENA) at CERN and also paves the way for future precision experiments to be conducted at the Facility of Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) in Germany.

Antimatter is created in minute amounts and is immediately annihilated on contact with matter, releasing energy. Antimatter experiments at CERN involve firing protons – positively charged particles found in the centre of atoms – at high speeds on to a solid target to create their antimatter equivalent, antiprotons.

Studying antimatter is intended to recreate, for an instant, what happened at the time of the Big Bang. For precision experiments, it is essential that these antiprotons are slowed down to very low energy or even rest so that they can be combined with positrons to form antihydrogen. Reducing the energy of the antiprotons, a process often referred to as beam deceleration or cooling, is one of the major aims of the AVA project.

The universities, industry and research centres behind AVA have pioneered a number of training initiatives in particle accelerator science. They have now combined their expertise to focus on a new academic area where only limited targeted training has been provided around the world.

The AVA project is working on three areas: optimising the cooling and transport of antiproton beams to improve the efficiency of antimatter experiments; developing monitors and detectors that can gather detailed information about low-energy antiproton beams to optimise experiments to better understand these particles; and developing novel experiments into low-energy antimatter to carry out measurements never done before.

AVA has received funding through the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme.

Project details

  • Project acronym: AVA
  • Participants: United Kingdom (Coordinator), Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Czechia, Germany, France, Japan, Denmark, Hungary
  • Project N°: 721559
  • Total costs: € 3 848 975
  • EU contribution: € 3 848 975
  • Duration: January 2017 to December 2020

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