The study of antimatter physics by the production of atomic systems containing antiparticles that can be used to test some of the most fundamental laws of nature. This research area focuses on production and fine control of trapped, charged antiparticles and on learning how to manipulate the properties (e.g. the quantum state and velocity) of the atoms they form. It also includes theoretical and experimental studies of positronium.
We will continue to sustain the UK's leadership in this highly fundamental field of physics. UK participation in the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) (Evidence source 1) capability at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) (Evidence source 2) will be protected to ensure the UK's part in the collaboration, leveraging additional European Union and UK government investment in this unique facility.
We will work with other relevant funders to ensure the maintenance of clear linkages and collaboration between this community and particle and fundamental physics research, and especially with particle physics funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and the EPSRC Mathematical Physics and Cold Atoms and Molecules research areas.
Where appropriate, we will encourage researchers to link their fundamental studies to other disciplines and applications, through links with technique-based disciplines and links between emerging experimental positronium research and analytical science, healthcare technologies and possible energy applications.Highlights:
UK experimental antihydrogen research is composed of a single research activity as part of the ALPHA collaboration (the only place in the world where slow antiprotons can be converted into antihydrogen). This represents a unique, world-leading research capability recognised through significant allotted beam time at CERN (Evidence source 3). Emerging and pioneering additional activities in positronium are also present in the UK. The portfolio in this research area complements key parts of STFC-based research and leverages a large UK investment in CERN. (Evidence source 4)
While there may be future impacts in healthcare, nuclear energy and analytical techniques, in the short to medium term this is fundamental research. The area has little short-term applicability to EPSRC Outcomes, although breakthroughs will improve technology in related research areas (Cold Atoms and Molecules, Plasma and Lasers, and Quantum Optics and Information). (Evidence source 5)
The relatively small size of this research area means there is little visible support for PhD and early-career skills, with pockets centred at key research centres. In view of the size and focus of the research, this will be sufficient to sustain the community. Costs can be high, but CERN beam time for the ALPHA collaboration is largely guaranteed by UK buy-in, with upgrades more important than entirely new apparatus at this stage. Theoretical research has been successful in acquiring High Performance Computing time and this access should be protected.
This research area is most relevant to the following Ambition under the Healthy Nation Outcome:
H3: Optimise diagnosis and treatment
Antiproton beams developed from antihydrogen and positronium research are of increasing use in cancer treatment; further developments may reveal new applications and treatments.
- ALPHA webpage.
- CERN webpage.
- CERN, The Future of Antihydrogen Physics, (2014).
- STFC, STFC Delivery Plan 2016-2020 (PDF), (2016).
- Institute of Physics, Antimatter: A Review of its Role in the Universe and its Applications (PDF), (2013).
Research area connections
This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.
Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
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EPSRC support by research area in Antihydrogen (GoW)
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