Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Antihydrogen

The study of antimatter physics by the production of atomic systems containing antiparticles.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

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 (for example 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 fundamental field of physics. UK participation in the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) capability at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) will be protected to ensure the UK’s part in the collaboration.

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.

Why we're doing it

UK experimental antihydrogen research is composed of a single research activity as part of the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (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 the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Emerging and pioneering additional activities in positronium are also present in the UK. The portfolio in this research area complements key parts of Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) based research and leverages a large UK investment in CERN.

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).

The Antihydrogen portfolio is centred around a few key centres and teams in the UK who are actively engaged with international partnerships, particularly with the ALPHA collaboration. The UK is a vital part of this collaboration making many key contributions to its overall success. EPSRC’s support, as a proportion of the overall portfolio, is relatively small but proportional relative to the UK effort and expertise, and our key strengths. Future work to understand the emerging skills needs to maintain our position on the international stage is required, as well as maintaining critical access to national supercomputing infrastructure to fuel world leading theoretical work.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for Antihydrogen.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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