Antihydrogen from merged plasmas - cold enough to trap?


The merging of antiprotons with a positron plasma is the predominant and highest efficient method for cold antihydrogen formation used to date [1, 2, 3]. We present experimental evidence that this method has serious disadvantages for producing antihydrogen cold enough to be trapped [4, 5]. Antihydrogen is neutral but may be trapped in a magnetic field minimum. However, the depth of such traps are of order 1 K, shallow compared to the kinetic energies in current antihydrogen experiments. Studying the spatial distribution of the antihydrogen emerging from the ATHENA positron plasma we have, by comparison with a simple model, extracted information about the temperature of the antihydrogen formed. We find that antihydrogen is formed before thermal equilibrium is attained between the antiprotons and the positrons, and thus that further positron cooling may not be sufficient for producing antihydrogen cold enough to be trapped [5]. We discuss the implications for trapping of antihydrogen in a magnetic trap, important for ongoing work by the ALPHA collaboration [6].

N. Madsen, (ALPHA and ATHENA collaborations) in NON-NEUTRAL PLASMA PHYSICS VI: Workshop on Non-Neutral Plasmas 2006 (American Institute of Physics, New York, 2006), AIP vol. 862, p. 164 (2006)