Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




TIME AND SPACE
Physicists Build Bigger Bottles Of Antimatter To Unlock Nature's Secrets
by Staff Writers
San Diego CA (SPX) Feb 23, 2011


UCSD physicists James Danielson, Clifford Surko and Craig Schallhorn (left to right) inspect the apparatus they are using to develop the world's largest trap for low-energy positrons, planned to hold a trillion or more antiparticles. Credit: Kim McDonald, UCSD

Once regarded as the stuff of science fiction, antimatter-the mirror image of the ordinary matter in our observable universe-is now the focus of laboratory studies around the world.

While physicists routinely produce antimatter with radioisotopes and particle colliders, cooling these antiparticles and containing them for any length of time is another story. Once antimatter comes into contact with ordinary matter it "annihilates"-or disappears in a flash of gamma radiation.

Clifford Surko, a professor of physics at UC San Diego who is constructing what he hopes will be the world's largest antimatter container, said physicists have recently developed new methods to make special states of antimatter in which they can create large clouds of antiparticles, compress them and make specially tailored beams for a variety of uses.

He described the progress made in this area, including his own efforts, at the annual meeting in Washington, DC, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His talk, "Taming Dirac's Particle," led off the session entitled "Through the Looking Glass: Recent Adventures in Antimatter," at 1:30 pm on February 18.

Surko said that since "positrons"-the anti-electrons predicted by English physicist Paul Dirac some 80 years ago-disappear in a burst of gamma rays whenever they come in contact with ordinary matter, accumulating and storing these antimatter particles is no small feat. But over the past few years, he added, researchers have developed new techniques to store billions of positrons for hours or more and cool them to low temperatures in order to slow their movements so they can be studied.

Surko said physicists are now able to slow positrons from radioactive sources to low energy and accumulate and store them for days in specially designed "bottles" that have magnetic and electric fields as walls rather than matter. They have also developed methods to cool them to temperatures as low as that of liquid helium and to compress them to high densities.

"One can then carefully push them out of the bottle in a thin stream, a beam, much like squeezing a tube of toothpaste," said Surko, adding that there are a variety of uses for such positrons.

A familiar positron technique that does not use this new technology is the PET scan, also known as Positron Emission Tomography, which is now used routinely to study human metabolic processes and help design new drugs.

In the new methods being developed by physicists, beams of positrons will be used in other ways. "These beams provide new ways to study how antiparticles interact or react with ordinary matter," said Surko. "They are very useful, for example, in understanding the properties of material surfaces."

Surko and his collaborators at UC San Diego are studying how positrons bind to ordinary matter, such as atoms and molecules. "While these complexes only last a billionth of a second or so," he said, "the 'stickiness' of the positron is an important facet of the chemistry of matter and antimatter."

Surko and his colleagues are building the world's largest trap for low-energy positrons in his laboratory at UC San Diego, capable of storing more than a trillion antimatter particles at one time.

"We are now working to accumulate trillions of positrons or more in a novel 'multi-cell' trap-an array of magnetic bottles akin to a hotel with many rooms, with each room containing tens of billions of antiparticles," he said.

"These developments are enabling many new studies of nature. Examples include the formation and study of antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen; the investigation of electron-positron plasmas, similar to those believed to be present at the magnetic poles of neutron stars, using a device now being developed at Columbia University; and the creation of much larger bursts of positrons which could eventually enable the creation of an annihilation gamma ray laser."

"An exciting long-term goal of the work is the creation of portable traps for antimatter," added Surko. "This would increase greatly the ability to use and exploit antiparticles in our matter world in situations where radioisotope- or accelerator-based positron sources are inconvenient to arrange."

.


Related Links
University of California - San Diego
Understanding Time and Space






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





TIME AND SPACE
Hunt for the 'God Particle' to continue
Geneva, Switzerland (UPI) Feb 21, 2011
Europe's Large Hadron Collider will either prove the existence of the so-called "God Particle" within two years or it probably doesn't exist, scientists say. Researchers say a plan to shut down the particle accelerator at the end of 2012 for a major refit has been put off because it is performing so well, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday. The delay will give scientists another ... read more


TIME AND SPACE
Venus And Crescent Moon Pair Up At Dawn

84 Student Teams Set to Roll At 18th Annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race

Google Lunar X Prize Roster Reaches 29 Teams

Waiter, There's Metal In My Moon Water

TIME AND SPACE
Advanced NASA Instrument Gets Close-up On Mars Rocks

Good Health Report After Hiatus In Communications

Experiment volunteers take 2nd 'walk on Mars'

Walking On Mars

TIME AND SPACE
Watch Out Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures Here Comes The Lynx

NASA Awards SAIC $62 Million Information Technology Contract Extension

Future Of Space Tourism, Research Will Be Focus Of Conference

A Solar System Family Portrait, From the Inside Out

TIME AND SPACE
China Mars probe set for November launch

Shenzhou 8 Mission Could Top Three Weeks

U.S. wary of China space weapons

Slow progress in U.S.-China space efforts

TIME AND SPACE
ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano Assigned To 2013 Space Station Mission

ISS Partners Mull Unique Photo-Op

Cosmonauts Conclude Russia 28th Spacewalk from Station

Ariane 5 Launches Second ATV Space Truck

TIME AND SPACE
Successful Launch Of REXUS 9

24 hour delay for launch of NASA satellite

SpaceX to focus on astronaut capsule

ILS Appoints Vice President Of Sales Marketing And Communications

TIME AND SPACE
'Wandering' planets may have water, life

Back To The Roots Of The Solar System

Kepler Triples ExoPlanet Count As Search For Biosphere 2 Intensifies

Direct Images Of Disks Unravel Mystery Of Planet Formation

TIME AND SPACE
NASA Mission to Tote CU Instrument And Student Satellite

Turning To Nature For Inspiration

First Series Of Laser-Guided Maverick Captive Flight Testing Completed

HP stock slides on trimmed earnings forecast




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement