The study of CPT invariance with the highest achievable precision in all particle sectors is of fundamental importance for physics. Equally important is the question of the gravitational acceleration of antimatter. In recent years, impressive progress has been achieved at the Low Energy Antiproton Ring (LEAR) at CERN in capturing antiprotons in specially designed Penning traps, in cooling them to energies of a few milli-electron volts, and in storing them for hours in a small volume of space. Positrons have been accumulated in large numbers in similar traps, and low energy positron or positronium beams have been generated. Finally, steady progress has been made in trapping and cooling neutral atoms. Thus the ingredients to form antihydrogen at rest are at hand. We propose to investigate the different methods to form antihydrogen at low energy, and to utilize the best of these methods to capture a number of antihydrogen atoms sufficient for spectroscopic studies in a magnetostatic trap. Once antihydrogen atoms have been captured at low energy, spectroscopic methods can be applied to interrogate their atomic structure with extremely high precision and compare it to its normal matter counterpart, the hydrogen atom. Especially the 1S-2S transition, with a lifetime of the excited state of 122 ms and thereby a natural linewidth of 5 parts in 1016, offers in principle the possibility to directly compare matter and antimatter properties at a level of 1 part in 1018. Additionally, comparison of the gravitational masses of hydrogen and antihydrogen, using either ballistic or spectroscopic methods, can provide direct experimental tests of the Weak Equivalence Principle for antimatter at a high precision.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Nuclear and High Energy Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry