‘Photon-Photon Collider Experiment’: Researchers develop technique to turn light into matter

Scientists in the UK have discovered how to turn light into matter. Until now, it was not practically shown what was theorized by scientists G Breit and John A Wheeler in 1934- the simplest technique of turning light into matter — by colliding  only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron. It has never been observed in a lab and past experiments as it necessitates the addition of massive high-energy particles.

Scientists from Imperial College London have unraveled the theory. They will perform a ‘Photon-Photon Collider’ experiment to prove this in practise. The experiment would recreate a process that was significant in the first 100 seconds of the universe, also seen in gamma ray bursts — the biggest explosions in the universe and one of physics’ greatest unsolved puzzles.

Two main steps of ‘Photon- Photon Collider’ experiment:

  1. Using an extremely powerful high-intensity laser to speed up electrons to just below the speed of light and then shoot these electrons at a slab of gold to create a beam of photons a billion times more energetic than visible light.
  2. Firing a high-energy laser at the inner surface of a tiny gold can called a hohlraum to create a thermal radiation field, generating light similar to the light emitted by stars.

The photon beam from the first stage would be directed through the centre of the can, causing the photons from the two sources to collide and form electrons and positrons. It would then be possible to observe the formation of the electrons and positrons when they exited the can.

This discovery would help in understanding how we can create matter directly from light using the technology.


Categories: International Current Affairs 2017Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017