Nature reports CERN physicists managed to confine single antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap for more than 170 milliseconds. The research could test fundamental physics and look for hints of new physics beyond.
For physicists, a bit of antimatter is a precious gift indeed. By comparing matter to its counterpart, they can test fundamental symmetries that lie at the heart of the standard model of particle physics, and look for hints of new physics beyond. Yet few gifts are as tricky to wrap. Bring a particle of antimatter into contact with its matter counterpart and the two annihilate in a flash of energy.
Now a research collaboration at CERN, Europe's particle-physics lab near Geneva, Switzerland, has managed, 38 times, to confine single antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic trap for more than 170 milliseconds. The group reported the result in Nature online on 17 November. "We're ecstatic. This is five years of hard work," says Jeffrey Hangst, spokesman for the ALPHA collaboration at CERN.