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Laser cooling of antihydrogen atoms

Christopher Baker Orcid Logo, W. Bertsche, A. Capra, C. Carruth, C. L. Cesar, M. Charlton, A. Christensen, R. Collister, April Cridland Orcid Logo, Stefan Eriksson Orcid Logo, A. Evans, N. Evetts, J. Fajans Orcid Logo, T. Friesen, M. C. Fujiwara Orcid Logo, D. R. Gill, P. Grandemange, P. Granum Orcid Logo, J. S. Hangst, W. N. Hardy, M. E. Hayden, D. Hodgkinson, E. Hunter, Aled Isaac Orcid Logo, M. A. Johnson, J. M. Jones, S. A. Jones, S. Jonsell Orcid Logo, A. Khramov Orcid Logo, P. Knapp, L. Kurchaninov, Niels Madsen Orcid Logo, D. Maxwell, J. T. K. McKenna, S. Menary, J. M. Michan, T. Momose, Patrick Mullan, J. J. Munich Orcid Logo, K. Olchanski, A. Olin Orcid Logo, J. Peszka Orcid Logo, A. Powell, P. Pusa, C. Ø. Rasmussen Orcid Logo, F. Robicheaux Orcid Logo, R. L. Sacramento, M. Sameed, E. Sarid, D. M. Silveira, D. M. Starko, C. So, G. Stutter, T. D. Tharp, A. Thibeault, R. I. Thompson, Dirk van der Werf Orcid Logo, J. S. Wurtele Orcid Logo, Michael Charlton

Nature, Volume: 592, Issue: 7852, Pages: 35 - 42

Swansea University Authors: Christopher Baker Orcid Logo, April Cridland Orcid Logo, Stefan Eriksson Orcid Logo, Aled Isaac Orcid Logo, Niels Madsen Orcid Logo, Patrick Mullan, Dirk van der Werf Orcid Logo, Michael Charlton

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Abstract

The photon—the quantum excitation of the electromagnetic field—is massless but carries momentum. A photon can therefore exert a force on an object upon collision1. Slowing the translational motion of atoms and ions by application of such a force2,3, known as laser cooling, was first demonstrated 40...

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Published in: Nature
ISSN: 0028-0836 1476-4687
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2021
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa56625
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Abstract: The photon—the quantum excitation of the electromagnetic field—is massless but carries momentum. A photon can therefore exert a force on an object upon collision1. Slowing the translational motion of atoms and ions by application of such a force2,3, known as laser cooling, was first demonstrated 40 years ago4,5. It revolutionized atomic physics over the following decades6,7,8, and it is now a workhorse in many fields, including studies on quantum degenerate gases, quantum information, atomic clocks and tests of fundamental physics. However, this technique has not yet been applied to antimatter. Here we demonstrate laser cooling of antihydrogen9, the antimatter atom consisting of an antiproton and a positron. By exciting the 1S–2P transition in antihydrogen with pulsed, narrow-linewidth, Lyman-α laser radiation10,11, we Doppler-cool a sample of magnetically trapped antihydrogen. Although we apply laser cooling in only one dimension, the trap couples the longitudinal and transverse motions of the anti-atoms, leading to cooling in all three dimensions. We observe a reduction in the median transverse energy by more than an order of magnitude—with a substantial fraction of the anti-atoms attaining submicroelectronvolt transverse kinetic energies. We also report the observation of the laser-driven 1S–2S transition in samples of laser-cooled antihydrogen atoms. The observed spectral line is approximately four times narrower than that obtained without laser cooling. The demonstration of laser cooling and its immediate application has far-reaching implications for antimatter studies. A more localized, denser and colder sample of antihydrogen will drastically improve spectroscopic11,12,13 and gravitational14 studies of antihydrogen in ongoing experiments. Furthermore, the demonstrated ability to manipulate the motion of antimatter atoms by laser light will potentially provide ground-breaking opportunities for future experiments, such as anti-atomic fountains, anti-atom interferometry and the creation of antimatter molecules.
College: College of Science
Funders: This work was supported by: the European Research Council through its Advanced Grant programme (JSH); CNPq, FAPERJ, RENAFAE (Brazil); NSERC, CFI, NRC/TRIUMF, EHPDS/EHDRS (Canada); FNU (Nice Centre), Carlsberg Foundation (Denmark); ISF (Israel); STFC, EPSRC, the Royal Society and the Leverhulme Trust (UK); DOE, NSF (USA); and VR (Sweden).
Issue: 7852
Start Page: 35
End Page: 42