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  1. Abstract

    Einstein’s general theory of relativity from 19151remains the most successful description of gravitation. From the 1919 solar eclipse2to the observation of gravitational waves3, the theory has passed many crucial experimental tests. However, the evolving concepts of dark matter and dark energy illustrate that there is much to be learned about the gravitating content of the universe. Singularities in the general theory of relativity and the lack of a quantum theory of gravity suggest that our picture is incomplete. It is thus prudent to explore gravity in exotic physical systems. Antimatter was unknown to Einstein in 1915. Dirac’s theory4appeared in 1928; the positron was observed5in 1932. There has since been much speculation about gravity and antimatter. The theoretical consensus is that any laboratory mass must be attracted6by the Earth, although some authors have considered the cosmological consequences if antimatter should be repelled by matter7–10. In the general theory of relativity, the weak equivalence principle (WEP) requires that all masses react identically to gravity, independent of their internal structure. Here we show that antihydrogen atoms, released from magnetic confinement in the ALPHA-g apparatus, behave in a way consistent with gravitational attraction to the Earth. Repulsive ‘antigravity’ is ruled out in this case. This experiment paves the way for precision studies of the magnitude of the gravitational acceleration between anti-atoms and the Earth to test the WEP.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 28, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  3. Abstract The positron, the antiparticle of the electron, predicted by Dirac in 1931 and discovered by Anderson in 1933, plays a key role in many scientific and everyday endeavours. Notably, the positron is a constituent of antihydrogen, the only long-lived neutral antimatter bound state that can currently be synthesized at low energy, presenting a prominent system for testing fundamental symmetries with high precision. Here, we report on the use of laser cooled Be + ions to sympathetically cool a large and dense plasma of positrons to directly measured temperatures below 7 K in a Penning trap for antihydrogen synthesis. This will likely herald a significant increase in the amount of antihydrogen available for experimentation, thus facilitating further improvements in studies of fundamental symmetries. 
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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 collision 1 . Slowing the translational motion of atoms and ions by application of such a force 2,3 , known as laser cooling, was first demonstrated 40 years ago 4,5 . It revolutionized atomic physics over the following decades 6–8 , 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 antihydrogen 9 , 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 radiation 10,11 , 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 spectroscopic 11–13 and gravitational 14 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. 
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