Cold antihydrogen experiments and radial compression of antiproton clouds in the ALPHA apparatus at CERN


Antihydrogen is the simplest neutral antimatter atom. Precision comparisons between hydrogen and antihydrogen would provide stringent tests of CPT (charge conjugation/parity transformation/time reversal) invariance and the weak equivalence principle. In the last few years, the ALPHA collaboration has produced, and trapped antihydrogen [1, 2]. Most recently, this collaboration has probed antihydrogen’s internal structure by inducing hyperfine transitions in ground state atoms [3]. In this thesis, many details of the cold antihydrogen formation, trapping and measurements of antihydrogen performed in the ALPHA apparatus are presented, with a focus on antiproton cloud compression. Such compression is an important tool for the formation and trapping of cold antihydrogen, since it allows control of the radial size and density of the antiproton cloud. Compression of non-neutral plasmas can be achieved using a rotating time-varying azimuthal electric field, which has been called rotating wall technique.

In this work, we have observed a new mechanism for compression of a non-neutral plasma, specifi- cally where antiprotons embedded in an electron plasma are compressed by a rotating wall drive at a frequency close to the sum of the axial bounce and rotation frequencies (in a frequency range of 50 – 750 kHz). The radius of the antiproton cloud is reduced by up to a factor of 20 with the smallest radius measured to be ∼ 0.2 mm. We have studied antiproton cloud compression as a function of the rotating wall frequency, the duration of compression, the rotating wall amplitude, the numbers of electrons and antiprotons, the magnetic field and the shape of the potential well. The frequency range over which compression is evident is compared to the sum of the antiproton bounce frequency and the system’s rotation frequency. It is suggested that bounce resonant transport is a likely explanation for the compression of antiproton clouds in this regime.

Andrea Gutierrez, PhD Thesis, University of British Columbia (2016)

Link to thesis