[News-releases] Antimatter team wins NSERC John C. Polanyi Award

Tim Meyer tmeyer at triumf.ca
Sun Feb 2 21:02:13 PST 2014

News Release | Embargoed until February 2, 2014, at 9:00 p.m. PST

Canadian-led measurement brings scientists one step closer to understanding
the anti-world

(Vancouver, BC) – Canadian scientists who were part of an international
collaboration that narrowed the gap between sci-fi legend and reality will
be receiving a prestigious national award at a ceremony in Ottawa today. For
their work in creating, capturing, and characterizing the antihydrogen atom,
the ALPHA-Canada Team are being presented with the NSERC John C. Polanyi
Award for 2013, which “honours an individual or team whose Canadian-based
research has led to a recent outstanding advance in the natural sciences or
engineering.” The Award recognizes the seamless collaboration among the
multidisciplinary team, their mastery of multiple technologies, and their
tight integration with the international collaboration based at the CERN
laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ALPHA Collaboration has developed a game-changing experimental program
to help explain how the universe was able to form after the Big Bang. The
initial breakthrough came in 2010 when they captured antihydrogen (the
antimatter partner to normal hydrogen) for the first time. Then in 2011 they
were able to hold antihydrogen in a sophisticated “magnetic bottle” for over
16 minutes – 5000 times longer than before. In the latest experiment,
published in 2012 in the journal Nature, the collaboration (led by the
Canadian team) measured for the first time the response of trapped
antihydrogen to microwaves, which opened the door to comparing it to the
extremely well-known response of normal hydrogen. Any discrepancy between
the two would yield invaluable information for why the universe is dominated
by normal matter, while the antimatter has all but disappeared.

The experiment was a multidisciplinary tour de force, combining more than a
dozen plasma, atomic, condensed-matter, particle, detector, and accelerator
physicists and students from the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon
Fraser University (SFU), the University of Calgary, York University and the
TRIUMF subatomic physics research lab in Vancouver. Speaking on behalf of
the ALPHA-Canada Team, Dr. Makoto Fujiwara enthused “We are thankful to
NSERC, NRC, our home universities and TRIUMF, as well as our scientific
colleagues around the globe for their risk-taking and support. ALPHA truly
exemplifies the spirit of international cooperation.”  TRIUMF Science
Director Dr. Reiner Kruecken remarked “This award is a great honour for the
ALPHA-Canada Team and TRIUMF is proud of the critical contributions by our
scientists and staff to the breakthroughs of the international ALPHA
collaboration in trapping and studying antihydrogen.”

The ALPHA experiment will soon be back online after a lengthy shutdown of
the CERN facility. The Team has been hard at work making a series of
improvements to the experimental apparatus. These enhancements will enable
the collaboration to make much more detailed measurements of the atomic
structure of antihydrogen, opening up a precision frontier into the

Support for ALPHA-Canada and its research came from NSERC (National Science
and Engineering Research Council, TRIUMF, AIF (Alberta Ingenuity Fund), the
Killam Trust, and FQRNT (Le Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la nature et
les technologies).



Dr. Makoto Fujiwara
Cell: 604.352.0944
Makoto.Fujiwara at triumf.ca

Dr. Marcello Pavan
Outreach & Communications
Tel: 604.222.7525
Cell: 604.868.7466
outreach at triumf.ca 

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