Secrets of positronium: measuring its energy levels surprises scientists

Secrets of positronium: measuring energy surprises scientists

New measurements of positronium levels cause confusion in the scientific world. Theoretical calculations have no precise explanation. The latest research in that area is related to the study of the exotic type of atom, but its behavior does not agree with theoretical assumptions that confuses the researchers. A positronium consists of an electron and its antiparticle, the positron. An error in calculations is unlikely.

And even new phenomena, such as undiscovered particles, cannot be fully appreciated. According to the theoretical physicist Jesus Perez Rios of the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, a positronium holds many secrets that science has to discover.


Its negative charge is constantly orbiting with a positively charged positron, and this is an atom without a nucleus. A positronium has only two particles, it lacks the complexities of the nucleus, which makes it seem simple.

But its simplicity could mean that positronium is able to test theories of quantum electrodynamics that explain the interaction of electrically charged particles. Doing this physics research at University College London. They were able to measure the separation of two specific energy levels of positronium that is called a fine structure.

In the course of the experiment, a positronium was formed during the interaction of the positron beam with the target, where an encounter with electrons took place. After using a laser that manipulated positronium atoms, a unique microwave radiation was generated, allowing atoms to move to a new energy level.


The scientists were able to determine the frequency of the radiation, when the atoms jumped. It is equivalent to the size of the gap between the energy levels. While the frequency predicted by the calculations was about 1898 megahertz, the researchers measured about 18501 megahertz, and the difference was about 0.02%.

Given that the calculated experimental error was only about 0.003%, it is a big gap. The scientists began to look for problems during the experiment that would help to explain the result, but nothing came of it. They believe that more research and experimentation is needed to identify the inconsistencies and explain them.