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CERN rushes to install new anti-matter hunter

Sprinting to get ALPHA-2 working before 2013 shutdown

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CERN scientists are on an instrument sprint to prep a new anti-matter detector, ALPHA-2, ahead of the facility’s upgrade shutdown in December.

The facility has taken delivery of new kit that includes a cryostat provided by Canada’s TRIUMF laboratory, and a 1 Tesla superconducting solenoid magnet.

The anti-matter detector team is now working at a fast pace to install the new kit before the system takes a long break starting in December. As ALPHA spokesperson Jeffrey Hangst explains here, “We really want to get some experience with this device this year so that, if we need to make any changes, we will have time during the long shutdown in which to make them.”

Hangst gives a longer explanation in this CERN video:

If the team can’t make the December deadline, it will be a long wait: the facility will be closed throughout 2013, which would mean it wouldn’t be able to commission the new detector until 2014.

The new experiment is specifically designed to spot anti-matter. Two regions are designed to capture anti-matter: antiprotons will be caught by a trap installed last June, and these will be guided into the new solenoid to be made into antihydrogen, which will be examined using microwave and laser spectroscopy. ®

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