Physicists from Imperial College London have discovered how to generate matter from light, an act supposed to be impossible when the indication was first theorized 80 years ago. Scientists have planned a collider that might turn light into matter in the purest way so far. The planned collider will smash two high-energy photons, the particles of light with no rest mass, into each other to convert them into two particles with mass. So far isn't the first time this method, also known as Breit-Wheeler pair production, has been used, but in the past scientists producing matter from light had to host particles with mass into the process.
But now researchers from the Imperial College London consider it's conceivable to produce a collider that only take in photons. This "photon-photon" collider is described in Nature photonics, and works by shooting high-energy photons into a pitch of photons released as blackbody radiation, Jacob Kastrenakes describes at The Verge. When these photons strike, the scientists trust many of them will turn into matter - or more precisely an electron and a positron. It’s an impeccable demo of Einstein's E=mc2. The entire reaction is compelled by energy from electrons, but in the newly planned collider, they're reserved detached from the photons using a vacuum, so the procedure remains pure.
Image shows the theory describing light and matter interactions. Credit: Oliver Pike, Imperial College London
Chief researcher Oliver Pike who is presently finishing his PhD in plasma physics, said: "Although the theory is conceptually simple, it has been very difficult to verify experimentally. We were able to develop the idea for the collider very quickly, but the experimental design we propose can be carried out with relative ease and with existing technology. Within a few hours of looking for applications of hohlraums outside their traditional role in fusion energy research, we were astonished to find they provided the perfect conditions for creating a photon collider. The race to carry out and complete the experiment is on!" The researchers trust the new collider will be equally simple to create from current technology and they're now sketching up plans to determine the feat within the next 12 months, TheGuardian reports.