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New research proves light can be converted into matter by man

This shows theories describing light and matter interactions.
This shows theories describing light and matter interactions.
Credit: Oliver Pike, Imperial College London Usage Restrictions: If you use the image, credit to Oliver Pike, Imperial College London

Oliver Pike and physicists from the Imperial College London have developed a method to convert light into matter. The research was published in the May 18, 2014, issue of the journal Nature Photonics. Perhaps fittingly, the basic theory that provided the potential for the conversion of light into matter was developed at Imperial College London in 1934 by Breit and Wheeler.

The proposed experiment will create an electron and a positron in a 'photon-photon collider' using technology that is presently available. The experiment will replicate the conversion of energy to matter that occurred shortly after the Big Bang and is similar to the same conversion known to occur in gamma ray bursts from stars. Breit and Wheeler considered the laboratory creation of matter impossible during their time but newer technology promises to make the theory a reality. The researchers actually found that they could make matter from light while investigating unrelated problems in fusion energy.

The proposed proof of the Breit-Wheeler theory involves two steps. Electrons will be accelerated to near the speed of light in a particle accelerator. The electrons will be fired at a thin strip of gold to produce high-energy photons. A laser will produce a second source of high-energy light similar to that emitted by stars from a gold hohlraum. The two light sources will be combined to form electrons and positrons. A hohlraum is a minute can-shaped object made of gold.

Most of the physicists that have reviewed the proposed experiment predict success. The production of matter from light will be the first time man has accomplished the feat. The success of this work will rank with the previous work of Einstein and is most likely to be a Nobel Prize selection in the future. The researchers claim that the discovery of how to make matter from light was relatively easy to develop.

Making matter from light may not seem to be so important to normal people. Making matter from light is one of the steps necessary for transporting objects from one place to another like in Star Trek. Physicists have already demonstrated that atoms can be transported between relatively close locations. The limitation of transporting large objects or humans has been found to be the availability of enough computer memory to house all the details necessary for transporting to be a reality.