Quadrupole Ion Trap - How to Trap Particles

Particle Trap

Description: Students manipulate a quadrupole ion trap (Paul trap) and study the behaviour of lycopodium spores in an electric quadrupole field. 

Before taking part in this experiment, students should already know about

  • electric fields, especially about the visualisation of electric field lines e.g. between two electrically charged spheres 
  • how a transformer works, AC voltage
  • how to measure voltages with a multimeter
  • what antiparticles are and why CERN's antimatter factory is studying anti-hydrogen atoms (optional)

What students will learn: 

  • how electrically charged particle can be trapped using electric fields
  • why particle traps are used in CERN's antimatter factory

Link to CERN physics:  Antiparticles are produced in particle collisions in the LHC all the time. However, it is very difficult to study antimatter (stable particle systems made of antiparticles such as anti-hydrogen atoms). In CERN's antimatter factory, several experiments try to trap antimatter using particle traps, and study its properties to solve the matter-antimatter asymmetry problem. GBAR, for example, wants to study the effect of gravity on anti-hydrogen atoms.


Availability: Can be included in the S'Cool LAB Days at CERN itinerary.

Minimum age: 16

Recommended age: 17-19


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