Wouter Dekens Researches Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry

After completing his PhD in Physics at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, Wouter Dekens has spent the last two years working for Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) and the New Mexico Consortium (NMC) funded by a grant from the NWO (the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research).

 

His research project “A Window on the Universal Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry” is an attempt to understand the theories we currently have to try to explain the elementary particles all around us. The Big Bang should have created equal amounts of matter and antimatter in the early universe. However, all the life forms and objects around us are created almost entirely of matter. Curiously, there is not much antimatter to be found. What happened to tip the balance? In physics, one of the greatest challenges is to figure out what happened to the antimatter, or why we see an asymmetry between matter and antimatter.

Currently, the most successful theory describing elementary particles is still unable to explain this matter-antimatter asymmetry. Numerous theories that try to explain the matter-antimatter imbalance, and postulate new interactions, have been put forward.

To get a clearer picture, Physicists are looking for hints by studying the subtle differences in the behavior of matter and antimatter particles created in high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

The first step of Dekens' project was to describe such new interactions in a model-independent way. The resulting framework was then employed to constrain non-standard interactions by using results from cutting-edge experiments, ranging from high-precision measurements at low energies to the ultra-high-energy proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.

The limits that were derived in this way allow one to determine which of the theories that attempt to explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe are still consistent with experimental data. This brings us one step closer to understanding which of the new interactions are responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry, and, consequently, our existence.

Dekens now works as a postdoc at LANL, working with Vincenzo Cirigliano. 

© 2018 New Mexico Consortium