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Study of the antihydrogen atom and ion production via charge exchange reaction on positronium

Abstract : The main goal of the GBAR collaboration is to measure the Gravitational Behaviour of Antihydrogen at Rest. It is done by measuring the classical free fall of neutral antihydrogen, which is a direct test of the weak equivalence principle for antimatter. The first step of the experiment is to produce the antihydrogen ion and catch it in a Paul trap, where it can be cooled to μK temperature using ground state Raman sideband sympathetic cooling. The μK temperature corresponds to particle velocity in the order of 1 m/s. Once such velocity is reached, the antihydrogen ion can be neutralised and starts to fall. This allows reaching 1 % precision on the measurement of the gravitational acceleration g for antimatter with about 1500 events. Later, it would be possible to reach 10⁻⁵ - 10⁻⁶ precision by measuring the gravitational quantum states of cold antihydrogen. However, in order to measure the free fall, firstly the antihydrogen ion has to be produced. It is formed in the charge exchange reactions between antiproton/antihydrogen and positronium. Positronium and antihydrogen atoms can be either in a ground state or in an excited state. An experimental study of the cross section measurement for these two reactions is described in the presented thesis. The antihydrogen atom and ion production takes place in a cavity. The formation of one antihydrogen ion in one beam crossing requires about 5x10⁶ antiprotons/bunch and a few 10¹¹ Ps/cm⁻³ positronium density inside the cavity, which is produced with a beam containing 5x10¹⁰ positrons per bunch. The production of such intense beams with required properties is a challenging task. First, the development of the positron source is described. The GBAR positron source is based on a 9 MeV linear electron accelerator. The relatively low energy was chosen to avoid activation of the environment. The electron beam is incident on a tungsten target where positrons are created from Bremsstrahlung radiation (gammas) through the pair creation process. Some of the created positrons undergo a further diffusion in the tungsten moderator reducing their energy to about 3 eV. The particles are re-accelerated to about 53 eV energy and are adiabatically transported to the next stage of the experiment. Presently, the measured positron flux is at the level of 6x10⁷ e⁺/s, which is a few times higher than intensities reached with radioactive sources. Then, the thesis features a short description of the antiproton/proton beam preparations, finalised with a chapter about the expected antihydrogen atom and ion production yield. After the reaction, antiproton, antihydrogen atom, and ion beams are guided to the detection system. It is made to allow for detection from 1 to a few thousand antihydrogen atoms, a single antihydrogen ion and all 5x10⁶ antiprotons. It is especially challenging because antiproton annihilation creates a lot of secondary particles which may disturb measurements of single antihydrogen atoms and ions. The main part of the Thesis is the description of the expected background for the antihydrogen atom and ion detection. Additionally, the detection system allows measuring the cross sections for the symmetric reactions of a hydrogen atom and ion production through charge exchange between protons and positronium. The antihydrogen ion production part of the experiment was fully installed at CERN in 2018. The first tests with antiprotons from the ELENA decelerator were done. Currently, the experiment is being commissioned with positrons and protons, in order to perform the hydrogen atom and ion formation. The optimisation of the ion production with matter will help to be fully prepared for the next antiproton beam time in 2021.
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  • HAL Id : tel-02417434, version 1

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Barbara Maria Latacz. Study of the antihydrogen atom and ion production via charge exchange reaction on positronium. High Energy Physics - Experiment [hep-ex]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLS266⟩. ⟨tel-02417434⟩

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