At CERN's Antimatter Decelerator (AD) beams of antiprotons are routinely generated for a wide range of precision experiments. The Antimatter Experiment: Gravity, Interferometry, Spectroscopy (AEGIS) is a versatile setup containing a set of Penning-Malmberg traps for efficient trapping and cooling of antiprotons used for the study of exotic antiproton bound systems, such as antihydrogen, for precision measurement of the gravitational influence on antimatter.
This technique is currently being adapted for the controlled synthesis of antiprotonic atoms through charge exchange with laser-excited Rydberg atoms. The relaxation of the bound antiproton leads to Auger electron and photon emission as the antiproton penetrates the electron cloud, eventually forming a fully or nearly fully stripped nucleus with the bound antiproton. Subsequent annihilation on the nuclear surface results in the formation of exotic, highly charged radioactive nuclear recoil fragments, which can be captured within a nested trap. In a recent campaign, AEGIS developed a new nested trap technique for trapping the highly charged ions (HCIs) formed after the annihilation of antiprotons on neutral atoms. Preliminary results demonstrate the formation and trapping of fully stripped fragments, identified using time-of-flight spectroscopy. This work could open a complementary avenue to existing facilities for nuclear structure studies using trapped HCIs and enable the search for new physics.