Fundamental Research Division
The DRF at the CEA assemble approximately 6,000 scientists since January 2016.
Scientific result | Content of the Universe
Axions were postulated in the 1970s, initially to solve the significant question in particle physics of the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, which were initially produced in equal amounts. These hypothetical particles have not yet been detected.
The principle of the CAST experiment is to convert axions coming from the Sun into X-rays using an intense magnetic field (9 teslas) produced by a magnet similar to those in the LHC. Observing one of these rare events would be a real feat: one solar axion is expected to be produced every thirty hours.
The sensitivity of CAST was improved by a factor of three, in particular thanks to a Micromegas-type gas detector, adapted to the focal plane of X-ray optics, developed at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, USA. For the first time, the sensitivity achieved by CAST was similar to that of astrophysical observations.
The Micromegas-X-ray optics combination will be used in the International Axion Observatory (IAXO), a future experiment aimed at improving the sensitivity by a factor of 15 compared to the best current limits.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.