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Nature. 2002 Oct 3;419(6906):456-9. Epub 2002 Sep 18.

Production and detection of cold antihydrogen atoms.

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Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, Sezione di Genova, Università di Genova, 16146 Genova, Italy.


A theoretical underpinning of the standard model of fundamental particles and interactions is CPT invariance, which requires that the laws of physics be invariant under the combined discrete operations of charge conjugation, parity and time reversal. Antimatter, the existence of which was predicted by Dirac, can be used to test the CPT theorem-experimental investigations involving comparisons of particles with antiparticles are numerous. Cold atoms and anti-atoms, such as hydrogen and antihydrogen, could form the basis of a new precise test, as CPT invariance implies that they must have the same spectrum. Observations of antihydrogen in small quantities and at high energies have been reported at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and at Fermilab, but these experiments were not suited to precision comparison measurements. Here we demonstrate the production of antihydrogen atoms at very low energy by mixing trapped antiprotons and positrons in a cryogenic environment. The neutral anti-atoms have been detected directly when they escape the trap and annihilate, producing a characteristic signature in an imaging particle detector.

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