Antiproton Decelerator


The Antiproton Decelerator (AD) is a storage ring at the CERN laboratory near Geneva.[1] It was built from the Antiproton Collector (AC) to be a successor to the Low Energy Antiproton Ring (LEAR) and started operation in the year 2000. Antiprotons are created by impinging a proton beam from the Proton Synchrotron on a metal target. The AD decelerates the resultant antiprotons to an energy of 5.3 MeV, which are then ejected to one of several connected experiments.

CERN Complex
CERN accelerator complex (cropped 2).jpeg
Current particle and nuclear facilities
LHCAccelerates protons and heavy ions
LEIRAccelerates ions
SPSAccelerates protons and ions
PSBAccelerates protons
PSAccelerates protons or ions
Linac 3Injects heavy ions into LEIR
Linac4Accelerates ions
ADDecelerates antiprotons
ELENADecelerates antiprotons
ISOLDEProduces radioactive ion beams

The major goals of experiments at AD are to spectroscopically observe the antihydrogen and to study the effects of gravity on antimatter. Though each experiment at AD has varied aims ranging from testing antimatter for cancer therapy to CPT symmetry and antigravity research.


Antimatter facilities
Low Energy Antiproton Ring (1982–1996)
Antiproton AccumulatorAntiproton production
Antiproton CollectorDecelerated and stored antiprotons
Antimatter Factory (2000–present)
Antiproton Decelerator (AD)Decelerates antiprotons
Extra Low Energy Antiproton ring (ELENA)Decelerates antiprotons received from AD

From 1982 to 1996, CERN operated the Low Energy Antiproton Ring (LEAR), through which several experiments with slow-moving antiprotons were carried out. During the end stages of LEAR, the physics community involved in those antimatter experiments wanted to continue their studies with the slow antiprotons. The motivation to build the AD grew out of the Antihydrogen Workshop held in Munich in 1992.[2][3] This idea was carried forward quickly and AD's feasibility study was completed by 1995.[4]

In 1996, the CERN Council asked the Proton Synchrotron (PS) division to look into the possibility of generating slow antiproton beams. The PS division prepared a design study in 1996 with the solution to use the antiproton collector (AC), and transform it into a single Antiproton Decelerator Machine. The AD was approved in February 1997.[5][6]

AC modification, AD installation, and commissioning process were carried out in the next three years. By the end of 1999, the AC ring was modified into a decelerator and cooling system- forming the Antiproton Decelerator.[3][7]


AD's oval-shaped perimeter has four straight sections where the deceleration and cooling systems are placed. There are several dipole and quadrupole magnets in these sections to avoid beam dispersion. Antiprotons are cooled and decelerated in a single 100-second cycle in the AD synchrotron.[3]

Production of antiprotonsEdit

AD requires about   protons of momentum 26 GeV/c to produce   antiprotons per minute. The high-energy protons coming from the proton synchrotron are made to collide with a thin, highly dense rod of iridium metal of 3-mm diameter and 55 cm in length.[3] The iridium rod embedded in graphite and enclosed by a sealed water-cooled titanium case remains intact. But the collisions create a lot of energetic particles, including the antiprotons. A magnetic bi-conical aluminum horn-type lens collects the antiprotons emerging from the target. This collector takes in the 3.5 GeV/c antiprotons, and they are separated from other particles using deflection through electromagnetic forces.[3][4]

CERN AD with the ALPHA, ASACUSA and ATRAP experiments.

Deceleration, accumulation and cooling downEdit

The radio frequency (RF) systems carry out the tasks of deceleration and bunching of cooled antiprotons at 3.5 GeV/c. There are numerous magnets inside, which focus and bend the randomly moving antiproton into a collimated beam. Simultaneously the electric fields decelerate them.[1][4]

Stochastic cooling and electron cooling stages designed inside the AD decrease the energy of beams as well as limit the antiproton beam from any significant distortions. Stochastic cooling is applied for antiprotons at 3.5 GeV/c and then at 2 GeV/c, followed by electron cooling at 0.3 GeV/c and at 0.1 GeV/c. The final output beam has a momentum of 0.1 GeV/C (kinetic energy equal to 5.3 MeV). These antiprotons move with the speed of about one-tenth that of light.[1][3][7]

But the experiments need much lower energy beams (3 to 5 KeV). So the antiprotons are again decelerated to ~5 KeV, using the degrader foils. This step accounts for the loss of 99.9% of antiprotons. The collected antiprotons are then temporarily stored in the Penning traps; before being fed into the several AD experiments. The Penning traps can also form antihydrogen by combining antiprotons with the positrons.[3][7]


ELENA ring

ELENA (Extra Low ENergy Antiproton) is a 30 m hexagonal storage ring situated inside the AD complex.[8][9] It is designed to further decelerate the antiproton beam to an energy of 0.1 MeV for more precise measurements.[10][11] The first beam circulated ELENA on 18 November 2016.[12] GBAR was the first experiment to use a beam from ELENA, with the rest of the AD experiments to follow suit after LS2 when beam transfer lines from ELENA will have been laid to all the experiments using the facility.[13]

AD experimentsEdit

AD experiments
Experiment Codename Spokesperson Title Proposed Approved Began Completed Link Website
AD-1 ATHENA Alberto Rotondi Antihydrogen production and precision experiments 20 Oct 1996 12 Jun 1997 6 Apr 2001 16 Nov 2004 INSPIRE
Grey Book
AD-2 ATRAP Gerald Gabrielse Cold antihydrogen for precise laser spectroscopy 25 Mar 1997 12 Jun 1997 12 Feb 2002 Running INSPIRE
Grey Book
Website Archived 2 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine
AD-3 ASACUSA Eberhard Widmann and Masaki Hori Atomic spectroscopy and collisions using slow antiprotons 7 Oct 1997 20 Nov 1997 12 Feb 2002 Running INSPIRE
Grey Book
Website Archived 17 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
AD-4 ACE Michael Holzscheiter Relative biological effectiveness and peripheral damage of antiproton annihilation 21 Aug 2002 6 Feb 2003 26 Jan 2004 24 Sep 2013 INSPIRE
Grey Book
AD-5 ALPHA Jeffrey Hangst Antihydrogen laser physics apparatus 21 Sep 2004 2 Jun 2005 18 Apr 2008 Running INSPIRE
Grey Book
AD-6 AEgIS Michael Doser Antimatter Experiment gravity Interferometry Spectroscopy 8 Jun 2007 5 Dec 2008 28 Sep 2014 Running INSPIRE
Grey Book
AD-7 GBAR Patrice Perez Gravitational Behaviour of Anti-Hydrogen at Rest 30 Sep 2011 30 May 2012 03 Oct 2012 Preparation INSPIRE
Grey Book
AD-8 BASE Stefan Ulmer Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment Apr 2013 5 Jun 2013 9 Sep 2014 Running INSPIRE
Grey Book
AD-9 PUMA Alexandre Obertelli antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation 29 Sep 2019 17 Mar 2021 N/A Preparation INSPIRE
Grey Book


ATHENA, AD-1 experiment, was an antimatter research project that took place at the Antiproton Decelerator. In August 2002, it was the first experiment to produce 50,000 low-energy antihydrogen atoms, as reported in Nature.[14][15] In 2005, ATHENA was disbanded and many of the former members worked on the subsequent ALPHA experiment.


The Antihydrogen Trap (ATRAP) collaboration, responsible for the AD-2 experiment, is a continuation of the TRAP collaboration, which started taking data for the PS196 experiment in 1985.[16][17] The TRAP experiment (PS196) pioneered cold antiprotons, cold positrons, and first made the ingredients of cold antihydrogen to interact. Later ATRAP members pioneered accurate hydrogen spectroscopy and observed the first hot antihydrogen atoms.


Atomic Spectroscopy and Collisions Using Slow Antiprotons (ASACUSA), AD-3, is an experiment testing for CPT-symmetry by laser spectroscopy of antiprotonic helium and microwave spectroscopy of the hyperfine structure of antihydrogen. It compares matter and antimatter using antihydrogen and antiprotonic helium and looks into matter-antimatter collisions.[18][19] It also measures atomic and nuclear cross-sections of antiprotons on various targets at extremely low energies.[20]


Members of ACE collaboration at experimental setup

The Antiproton Cell Experiment (ACE), AD-4, started in 2003. It aims to assess fully the effectiveness and suitability of antiprotons for cancer therapy. The results showed that antiprotons required to break down the tumor cells were four times less than the number of protons required. The effect on healthy tissues due to antiprotons was significantly less. Although the experiment ended in 2013, further research and validation still continue, owing to the long procedures of bringing in novel medical treatments.[21][22]


ALPHA experiment

The Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA), the AD-5 experiment, is designed to trap neutral antihydrogen in a magnetic trap, and conduct experiments on them. The ultimate goal of this endeavour is to test CPT symmetry through comparison of the atomic spectra of hydrogen and antihydrogen (see hydrogen spectral series).[23] The ALPHA collaboration consists of some former members of the ATHENA collaboration (the first group to produce cold antihydrogen, in 2002), as well as a number of new members.


AEgIS, Antimatter Experiment: gravity, Interferometry, Spectroscopy, AD-6, is an experiment at the Antiproton Decelerator. AEgIS would attempt to determine if gravity affects antimatter in the same way it affects normal matter by testing its effect on an antihydrogen beam. The first phase of the experiment created antihydrogen using the charge exchange reaction between antiprotons from the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) and positronium, producing a pulse of antihydrogen atoms. These atoms are sent through a series of diffraction gratings, ultimately hitting a surface and thus annihilating. The points where the antihydrogen annihilates are measured with a precise detector. Areas behind the gratings are shadowed, while those behind the slits are not. The annihilation points reproduce a periodic pattern of light and shadowed areas. Using this pattern, it can be measured how many atoms of different velocities are vertically displaced due to gravity during n their horizontal flight. Therefore, the Earth's gravitational force on antihydrogen can be determined.[24]


GBAR (Gravitational Behaviour of Anti hydrogen at Rest) experiment

GBAR (Gravitational Behaviour of Anti hydrogen at Rest), AD-7 experiment, is a multinational collaboration at the Antiproton Decelerator of CERN. The GBAR project aims to measure the free-fall acceleration of ultra-cold neutral anti-hydrogen atoms in the terrestrial gravitational field. By measuring the free fall acceleration of anti-hydrogen and comparing it with acceleration of normal hydrogen, GBAR is testing the equivalence principle proposed by Albert Einstein. The equivalence principle says that the gravitational force on a particle is independent of its internal structure and composition.[25]


BASE (Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment), AD-8, is a multinational collaboration at the Antiproton Decelerator of CERN.

The goal of the Japanese/German BASE collaboration[26] are high-precision investigations of the fundamental properties of the antiproton, namely the charge-to-mass ratio and the magnetic moment. The single antiprotons are stored in an advanced Penning trap system, which has a double-trap system at its core, for high precision frequency measurements and for single particle spin flip spectroscopy. By measuring the spin flip rate as a function of the frequency of an externally applied magnetic-drive, a resonance curve is obtained. Together with a measurement of the cyclotron frequency, the magnetic moment is extracted.


The PUMA (antiProton Unstable Matter Annihilation experiment), AD-9, aims to look into the quantum interactions and annihilation processes between the antiprotons and the exotic slow-moving nuclei. PUMA's experimental goals require about one billion trapped antiprotons made by AD and ELENA to be transported to the ISOLDE-nuclear physics facility at CERN, which will supply the exotic nuclei.[27] Antimatter has never been transported out of the AD facility before. Designing and building a trap for this transportation is the most challenging aspect for the PUMA collaboration.[28][29][27]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "The Antiproton Decelerator – CERN". Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Antihydrogen Workshop, Munich, Germany, July 30-31, 1992". Hyperfine Interact. 76 (1993) 1, pp.1-397. Springer. 1993. Retrieved 6 July 2021.{{cite conference}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Baird, S. A.; Berlin, D.; Boillot, J.; Bosser, Jacques; Brouet, M.; Buttkus, J.; Caspers, Friedhelm; Chohan, V.; Dekkers, Daniel (1996). Design study of the antiproton decelerator: AD. doi:10.17181/cern.knxm.aykr.
  4. ^ a b c Autin, Bruno; Baird, S. A.; Berlin, D.; Boillot, J.; Bosser, Jacques; Brouet, M.; Caspers, Friedhelm; Chanel, M.; Chohan, V. (1995). The antiproton decelerator (AD), a simplified antiproton source (feasibility study). doi:10.17181/cern.0w6p.8onp.
  5. ^ CERN. Geneva. Research Board; CERN. Geneva. Research Board, eds. (1997). Minutes of the 130th Meeting of the Research Board held on Thursday 6 February, 1997. CERN-DG-RB-Minutes.
  6. ^ "The Low Energy Antiproton Ring". CERN. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Hémery, J.Y.; Maury, S. (9 August 1999). "The Antiproton Decelerator: Overview". Nuclear Physics A. 655 (1–2): c345–c352. Bibcode:1999NuPhA.655..345H. doi:10.1016/S0375-9474(99)00223-7. ISSN 0375-9474.
  8. ^ "ELENA – Home".
  9. ^ Oelert, W. (2015). "The ELENA Project at CERN". Acta Physica Polonica B. 46 (1): 181. arXiv:1501.05728. Bibcode:2015AcPPB..46..181O. doi:10.5506/APhysPolB.46.181. S2CID 119270123.
  10. ^ Jorgensen, L V; Nosych, A; Sanchez-Quesada, J; Harasimowicz, J; LeGodec, G; Angoletta, M E; Kuchler, D; Zickler, T; Eriksson, T; Capatina, O; Dobers, T (2014). Extra Low ENergy Antiproton (ELENA) ring and its Transfer Lines: Design Report. CERN Yellow Reports: Monographs. doi:10.5170/CERN-2014-002. ISBN 9789290834007.
  11. ^ Madsen, N. (2018). "Antiproton physics in the ELENA era". Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A. 376 (2116): 20170278. Bibcode:2018RSPTA.37670278M. doi:10.1098/rsta.2017.0278. PMC 5829179. PMID 29459419.
  12. ^ "A new ring to slow down antimatter – CERN". Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Exceptionally slow antiprotons". CERN. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  14. ^ "Thousands of cold anti-atoms produced at CERN" (Press release). CERN. 18 September 2002.
  15. ^ Amoretti, M.; et al. (ATHENA Collaboration) (2002). "Production and detection of cold antihydrogen atoms". Nature. 419 (6906): 456–459. Bibcode:2002Natur.419..456A. doi:10.1038/nature01096. PMID 12368849. S2CID 4315273.
  16. ^ Gabrielse, G.; Fei, X.; Orozco, L.; Tjoelker, R.; Haas, J.; Kalinowsky, H.; Trainor, T.; Kells, W. (September 1990). "Thousandfold improvement in the measured antiproton mass". Physical Review Letters. 65 (11): 1317–1320. Bibcode:1990PhRvL..65.1317G. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.65.1317. ISSN 0031-9007. PMID 10042233.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  17. ^ "Greybook: PS196". Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  18. ^ "ASACUSA – General". Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "ACE – CERN". Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  22. ^ Bassler, Niels; Alsner, Jan; Beyer, Gerd; DeMarco, John J.; Doser, Michael; Hajdukovic, Dragan; Hartley, Oliver; Iwamoto, Keisuke S.; Jäkel, Oliver; Knudsen, Helge V.; Kovacevic, Sandra (January 2008). "Antiproton radiotherapy". Radiotherapy and Oncology. 86 (1): 14–19. doi:10.1016/j.radonc.2007.11.028. PMID 18158194.
  23. ^ Madsen, N. (2010). "Cold antihydrogen: a new frontier in fundamental physics". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. 368 (1924): 3671–82. Bibcode:2010RSPTA.368.3671M. doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0026. PMID 20603376. S2CID 12748830.
  24. ^ Aegis Collaboration (2018). "AEgIS Experiment". CERN.
  25. ^ "GBAR". CERN. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  26. ^ "official BASE website".
  27. ^ a b Obertelli, Alexandre (2018). PUMA: antiprotons and radioactive nuclei. Memorandum. CERN. Geneva. ISOLDE and neutron Time-of-Flight Experiments Committee, INTC.
  28. ^ "The PUMA project: Antimatter goes nomad". CERN. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  29. ^ Aumann, T.; Bartmann, W.; Bouvard, A.; Boine-Frankenheim, O.; Broche, A.; Butin, F.; Calvet, D.; Carbonell, J.; Chiggiato, P. (2019). PUMA: antiprotons and radioactive nuclei. Proposal. CERN. Geneva. SPS and PS Experiments Committee, SPSC.

External linksEdit

  1. GBAR experiment
  2. Beams at AD
  3. Alpha experiment results
  4. AD's Antiproton source
  5. AD website Archived 2 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ATHENA website
  7. ATRAP website
  8. ASACUSA website
  9. ALPHA website
  10. AEgIS website
  11. "What is the AD?". CERN. Archived from the original on 15 February 2006.
  12. "ATHENA figures and pictures". CERN. Archived from the original on 22 June 2007.
  13. Record for Antiproton Decelerator on INSPIRE-HEP

Further readingEdit

  • G. Gache (12 July 2008). "How would antimatter interact with gravity?". Softpedia.
  • G. Drobychev; et al. (AEGIS collaboration) (8 June 2007). "Proposal for the AEGIS experiment at the CERN Antiproton Decelerator (Antimatter Experiment: Gravity, Interferometry, Spectroscopy)" (PDF). CERN.
  • G. Testera; et al. (2008). "Formation of a cold antihydrogen beam in AEGIS for gravity measurements". AIP Conference Proceedings. 1037: 5–15. arXiv:0805.4727. Bibcode:2008AIPC.1037....5T. doi:10.1063/1.2977857. S2CID 55052697.

Coordinates: 46°14′02″N 6°02′47″E / 46.23389°N 6.04639°E / 46.23389; 6.04639