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Sci-Fi Science

Antimatter Molecule Should Boost Laser Power 211

Posted by Zonk
from the i-hope-that-annihilation-ray-laser-is-for-peaceful-purposes dept.
Laser Lover writes "Molecules made by combining an electron with their anti-particle positron have been created by researchers at the University of California Riverside. The team's long term goal is to use the exotic material to create 'an annihilation gamma ray laser', potentially one million times more powerful than existing lasers. 'An electron can hook up with its antiparticle, the positron, to form a hydrogen-like atom called positronium (Ps). It survives for less than 150 nanoseconds before it is annihilated in a puff of gamma radiation. It was known that two positronium atoms should be able to bind together to form a molecule ... '"
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Antimatter Molecule Should Boost Laser Power

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  • To what end? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @05:23AM (#20665169)
    Granted, more powerful lasers would be great for long-distance communications, but what kind of materials could be used in fiber-optic cables to transmit gamma rays? What kind of insulation would the cable have to use?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:05AM (#20665315)
    i doubt a mod will even see this with an AC attatched to it, but, meh.
    try relating this idea with this one
    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/09/13/2328233 [slashdot.org]
    iirc a few people were curious as to what it may take to get this off the ground (pun so intended) as it were. =P
  • Molecules...? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FlyByPC (841016) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @06:41AM (#20665427) Homepage
    I was somehow led to believe that a molecule was produced by the combination of two atoms -- which each have at least one proton (in the case of Hydrogen). How does combining an electron with a positron (both very very low mass particles; think "mosquitoes" compared to the "elephant" protons and neutrons in the nucleus) equal an atom -- let alone two or more atoms to equal a molecule?

    It may be cool, but perhaps we need a new name for it. Molecule just doesn't fit; sorry.
  • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) * on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:55AM (#20666217) Journal
    tell me, which war was won by weapons ?

    Carthagio delenda est.

  • Re:Molecules...? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ash Vince (602485) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @08:59AM (#20666251) Journal

    I get the idea that the non-scientist who wrote this article has no clue what he's talking about,...
    Sounds like most of slashdot then.

    I would hazard a guess (note - guess as I have not yet purchased yesterdays new scientist and read the full article) that this works as the two particles they are combining actually have opposing charge. This should get around the equal number of protons and electrons rule as the net charge of the atom will still be zero.

    Since neutrons are not a necessary part of an atom this should work. The wikipedia page on hydrogen is fairly detailed so should enable you to see some similarities:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen [wikipedia.org]

    Of course the big difference though will be the atomic weight as this will be close to negligible. This is probably why the resultant particle is so short lived as the two components of the atom are the same mass they would behave more like a dipole where both orbit each other rather than one being a stationary nucleus with orbiting electron.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dipole [wikipedia.org]

    What I would like to know is how they plan on making this form a stable molecule so I will be buying new-scientist to find out.

    (Disclaimer - I flunked my degree in Physics some time ago so this may all be bullshit, if you think it is please post a detailed explanation of why and mention your level of physics education if possible. Please also do not bother pointing out that I am using the Bohr model of the electron and discrediting it UNLESS you can specifically state why it does not apply in this case.)

  • Re:To what end? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mhall119 (1035984) on Wednesday September 19, 2007 @10:30AM (#20667333) Homepage Journal
    Conventional lasers use electricity or chemical reaction to stimulate radiation emission from some material. I would assume they are going to use the gamma rays to do this, and not lasing the gamma rays themselves.

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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