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Antihydrogen -- Top Science Story for 2010

20 December 2010

It was a tough decision, given all the fantastic physics done in 2010. But we have decided to award the Physics World 2010 Breakthrough of the Year to two international teams of physicists at CERN, who have created new ways of controlling antiatoms of hydrogen. 

The ALPHA collaboration announced its findings in late November, which involved trapping 38 antihydrogen atoms (an antielectron orbiting an antiproton) for about 170 ms. This is long enough to measure their spectroscopic properties in detail, which the team hopes to do in 2011.

Antihydrogen Teams at CERN
Inside the antihydrogen facility at CERN showing some of the ASACUSA team (left) and some of the ALPHA team (right). (Courtesy: CERN)


Just weeks later, the ASACUSA group at CERN announced that it had made a major breakthrough towards creating a beam of antihydrogen that is suitable for spectroscopic studies. Our congratulations to both teams.

We have also awarded nine runners-up mentions (see below) – with second place going to the first direct detection of the spectrum of an exoplanet and third place to the observation of quantum behaviour in an object big enough to be seen with the naked eye.

ALPHA team
The ALPHA team celebrates (Courtesy CERN).  TRIUMF scientist Makoto Fujiwara is visible as the fourth person on the right; he is spokeperson for the Canadian team on ALPHA.


--Excerpted from the full story at