An experimental limit on the charge of antihydrogen


The properties of antihydrogen are expected to be identical to those of hydrogen, and any differences would constitute a profound challenge to the fundamental theories of physics. The most commonly discussed antiatom-based tests of these theories are searches for antihydrogen-hydrogen spectral differences (tests of CPT (charge-parity-time) invariance) or gravitational differences (tests of the weak equivalence principle). Here we, the ALPHA Collaboration, report a different and somewhat unusual test of CPT and of quantum anomaly cancellation. A retrospective analysis of the influence of electric fields on antihydrogen atoms released from the ALPHA trap finds a mean axial deflection of 4.1±3.4 mm for an average axial electric field of 0.51 V mm−1. Combined with extensive numerical modelling, this measurement leads to a bound on the charge Qe of antihydrogen of Q=(−1.3±1.1±0.4) × 10−8. Here, e is the unit charge, and the errors are from statistics and systematic effects.

C. Amole, M. D. Ashkezari, M. Baquero-Ruiz, W. Bertsche, E. Butler, A. Capra, C. L. Cesar, M. Charlton, S. Eriksson, J. Fajans, T. Friesen, M. C. Fujiwara, D. R. Gill, A. Gutierrez, J. S. Hangst, W. N. Hardy, M. E. Hayden, C. A. Isaac, S. Jonsell, L. Kurchaninov, A. Little, N. Madsen, J. T. K. McKenna, S. Menary, S. C. Napoli, P. Nolan, K. Olchanski, A. Olin, A. Povilus, P. Pusa, C.Ø. Rasmussen, F. Robicheaux, E. Sarid, D. M. Silveira, C. So, T. D. Tharp, R. I. Thompson, D. P. van der Werf, Z. Vendeiro, J. S. Wurtele, A. I. Zhmoginov,  A. E. Charman, Nature Communications 5, 3955 (2014)