Most Powerful Anti-matter Beam Yet

Posted on October 29, 2007  Comments (1)

NC State Nuclear Reactor Program Celebrates Scientific Breakthrough

Success was two years in the making – the positron project began in 2005 as a collaboration between NC State, the University of Michigan and Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. “The idea here is that if we create this intense beam of antimatter electrons – the complete opposite of the electron, basically – we can then use them in investigating and understanding the new types of materials being used in many applications,” Hawari said.

Now that the intense beam has been generated, members of NC State’s nuclear engineering program and their collaborators will turn their focus to developing instrumentation such as antimatter spectrometers and potentially long-discussed antimatter microscopes, which would allow for a much more detailed look into materials at the atomic level.

NC State Nuclear Reactor Generates Record Low-Energy Positron Beam

Once the stuff of science fiction, these anti-matter, or positron, beams have a multitude of uses in nanoscience and materials engineering because of the positron’s ability to gravitate toward and trap in defects or pores in a material at sizes as small as a single atom. Positrons are used to detect damage from radiation in nuclear reactors and are impacting the emerging field of nanoengineered materials where nanometer-sized voids control properties such as dielectric constant in microelectronic devices and hydrogen storage in fuel cells.

An intense positron beam means that researchers will have better measurements of a material’s porosity, especially in high-tech thin film applications where traditional techniques falter. This beam will be used in Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectrometry (PALS) and Doppler Broadening Spectrometry (DBS). Hawari also believes that other positron analysis techniques will become possible. While the spectrometers are not yet built, they are on the books for completion next year.

One Response to “Most Powerful Anti-matter Beam Yet”

  1. CuriousCat » Matter-Antimatter Split Hints at Physics Breakdown
    April 6th, 2008 @ 8:08 pm

    “Nature may have handed scientists a new clue in a longstanding mystery: how matter beat out antimatter for dominance of the universe…”

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