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Accelerators Validating Antimatter physics

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AVA (Accelerators Validating Antimatter physics)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2021-02-28

Antiprotons, stored and cooled at low energies in a storage ring or at rest in traps, are highly desirable for the investigation of basic questions on fundamental interactions, the static structure of antiprotonic atoms, CPT tests by high-resolution spectroscopy on antihydrogen, as well as gravity experiments. Antimatter experiments are at the cutting edge of science. They are, however, very difficult to realize and have been limited by the performance of the only existing facility in the world, the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) at CERN.

The project Accelerators Validating Antimatter physics (AVA) enabled an interdisciplinary and cross-sector R&D program on antimatter research. Within AVA, the project partners carried out research across 3 scientific work packages. These covered facility design and optimization, advanced beam diagnostics and novel low energy antimatter experiments.

The AVA Fellows established links with other networks and training initiatives and through this training approach, the AVA Fellows gained significant interdisciplinary exposure and built close connections with the wider scientific community. The individual training of the Fellows was further enriched and significant networking opportunities were provided through partnerships with adjunct partners.

The project has met or exceeded all of its ambitious research, training and dissemination targets. The AVA network has provided an excellent framework for world-class research and has pioneered new ways of training early career researcher which are now considered at partner organization as future standard.
To fully exploit the potential of low energy antiproton research infrastructures, the AVA partners carried out a closely connected R&D program across three scientific work packages:

Facility Design and Optimization,
addressing beam life time and stability in low energy storage rings, beam cooling, deceleration and extraction through simulation and experiment, as well as innovative control systems. Significant progress was made in the enhancements to existing simulation codes, as well as experimental studies into beam motion and cooling at the ELENA and LEIR rings at CERN. These studies were carried out in close collaboration between several AVA Fellows and have helped model the anticipated performance of the accelerator and its electron cooler better.

Beam Diagnostics,
to monitor the properties of a low energy antiproton beam with higher precision and help verify simulation models experimentally. R&D was carried out into beam profile, position and intensity measurement and prototype detectors were successfully developed and tested at the partner organizations in this work package. These have already shown superior performance as compared to existing technologies and are expected to mark the state-of-the-art in the future.

Antimatter Experiments,
including experiments into the effects of gravity on antimatter and spectroscopic measurements that give an insight into the structure of antiparticles. R&D has addressed a wide range of experimental studies and led to the development of new and sophisticated simulation tools that allow simulating realistic beam transport at lowest energies through beam lines and in traps. This work was complemented by R&D into novel sensors that can measure the 3D electric field distribution. Trap experiments were carried out at several partner organizations and this resulted in publications in a number of high impact factor journals. It is expected that the improvements made within AVA will in the near future help push the resolution limits of several high precision experiments and enable further scientific breakthrough. Finally, and closely connected to the first scientific work package, cooling methods of stored particles and efficient trap injection schemes have been investigated and progress was achieved through collaboration, highlighting the central role that the network has played.

In addition to local training provided by the respective host, the network-wide training plan was successfully implemented. Trainings have included two week-long researcher skills school, a media training week leading, International Schools on Antimatter Physics and Precision Studies, Topical Workshops, and a Symposium on Accelerators for Science and Society with the training initiatives OMA on medical accelerators and LIV.DAT on data intensive science.

The AVA Fellows have had a strong involvement in all dissemination and communication activities in AVA, including the project website, the project's quarterly MIRROR newsletter, a project leaflet and brochure, as well as the film AVA – Nature (anti)matters. The AVA promotional material was used successfully to raise the profile of the project. These activities went far beyond the original plan and have reached Millions of people. Particular highlights were the Marie Curie Day 2017 (reach: 500,000), Physics of Star Wars (reach: 1,000,000), a public talk at CERN (fully booked, available only in two languages), and the AVA film with almost 100,000 views, making it the most viewed film on the EC's YouTube playlist. The project start was internationally communicated, with news articles in The Times and many other high level publications, helping raise the profile of antimatter research around the world.
Within the AVA project, remarkable results have been achieved which include:
-AVA Fellow Markus Wiesinger, who worked at Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, was part of the team that invented a novel ion multi-trap method enabling the Measurement of Ultralow Heating Rates of a Single Antiproton in a Cryogenic Penning Trap. This important achievement for the wider low energy antimatter and ion community was described in an article published in Physical Review Letters;
- Antiproton tagging and vertex fitting in the Timepix3 detector, paving the way for new experimental studies; this was achieved in the AEgIS experiment at CERN and published in the Journal of Instrumentation;
- New and improved sensor technologies were successfully developed at companies FOTON, CIVIDEC and Stahl Electronics, as well as at the University of Liverpool. These have expanded the industry partners’ product portfolios and enabled new applications outside of antimatter research, e.g. medical applications. Results from these studies were published in high impact journals such as Physical Review Letters and have helped raise the project profile;
-Results from studies into beam cooling led to an invited talk of AVA Fellow Bianca Veglia at IPAC’21, the world’s largest conference on accelerator science and technology, highlighting the breakthrough nature of the research.

The AVA network facilitated international collaboration and an exchange of knowledge, and benefited from significant industry involvement. This in turn helped increase the competitiveness of the researchers and institutions involved, contributing to the principles of the European Research Area. This also benefited planned and operational facilities such as the FAIR project in Germany, where low energy antimatter and ion physics will be pursued, as well as radioactive ion beam facilities including the extension of the ISOLDE facility at CERN.

The consortium will continue its communication and dissemination activities after the project end to continue to support antimatter and low energy ion research in the future.