SGU Science Picture of the Week: Plethora of Positrons
What you see here is a beautiful contour map of positron signals created by an intense burst of laser light.
Researchers at the University of Texas and Rice University are using a very powerful laser to create positrons in numbers and densities never seen before.
Positrons are the anti-matter counterpart to electrons and have been a mainstay of science fiction for many decades. Antimatter has the potential to be the most dense form of energy storage since it annihilates with ordinary matter, converting nearly all the mass into a usable form of energy to power things like ummm…spaceships.
To put this into perspective, we’re talking about energy storage 10 million times that of conventional chemical reactions. One major problem in realizing this is that only paltry amounts of antimatter can be created in accelerators.
Until now perhaps.
Using a Peta-Watt laser (2 billion trillion watts) that fires femtosecond bursts (quadrillionths of a second), scientists were able to blast gold and platinum targets so intensely that record numbers of positrons were created.
Check out the fascinating details of this experiment here
Image Credit: E. Liang/Rice University