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Is it worth creating antimatter?

Extracts from this document...




Is it Worthwhile creating antimatter?


What is antimatter?        

Specific Types of Antiparticles        




Beta Radiation        

Negative Beta Radiation        

Positive Beta Radiation        

Positron-Electron Annihilation        


Current Antimatter Production        

Production of antiprotons        

Antimatter Atoms        

Penning Trap        


Energy Production        

Military Weaponry        

Medical Imaging        

Production of Positrons        




Is it worth creating antimatter now?        

Is it worth funding research into antimatter?        


Appendix A: Table of Figures        

Appendix B: Bibliography        

Appendix C: Synoptic Links        


What is antimatter?

For each of the fermions (leptons and quarks) detailed above, they have a corresponding anti-particle. These particles are in no way different to ours, except for the opposition of charge. In essence, there is no reason why our universe couldn’t have been made from antimatter, and if it were, then we would classify our normal matter as antimatter. What this means is that antimatter merely has the anti prefix because it is not what we are used to. There is no deep meaning to it.

For each elementary fermion, therefore, there is a corresponding antifermion. For each quark, there is an antiquark. For each hadron, there is an antihadron. These are represented by the same symbols as the normal equivalents, but with a line over the top. A muon is represented by the greek letter mu (μ), whereas its corresponding antiparticle – the antimuon is represented thusly: image02.png. It has a charge of +1 (the negative of the charge of a muon) and the same mass – 207 times the mass of an electron.

Some of the properties will continue to be documented in the rest of the report, however, for now; I will describe some of the properties of the most commonly occurring antiparticles

Specific Types of Antiparticles


...read more.


Beta-radiation, at a basic level, is simply the decay of a down quark to an up quark. However, this breaks some of the conservation laws! Since an up quark is slightly lighter than a down quark, there must be another constituent particle released, and for years, scientists thought this was it:

d → u + e-

Charge is clearly conserved, as is mass. However, when one actually observes the decay, there is a difference in mass that one would not expect to see:


Figure 3: Energy Released in Beta-Decay

This is seemingly unexplained! Clearly there cannot be energetic photons released just like in alpha-emission, because otherwise the energy would come in steps, energy being quantized.

The answer: Neutrinos! Latin for ‘little neutral particle,’ these were first suggested by Pauli and by releasing these particles with differing amounts of energy, this accounts for the seemingly unexplained difference in the energy levels. This is what Figure 3, the Feynman diagram shows with one slight exception – the anti-neutrino is there to maintain lepton number, as otherwise there is two leptons on one side and none on the other; there must be an antilepton to cancel out the ‘leptonicity’ electron.

Positive Beta Radiation

There is another type of beta radiation – β+ decay. This is different from the previous example because it does not occur, naturally releasing energy; instead, it requires energy put into the system to occur in most cases. However, there are some isotopes that are able to do it in normal situations.

d → u + e+ + νe


Figure 4: Beta-plus decay

Although this does not occur normally in isolation, as the mass of the down quark is greater than that of the up quark there are rare instances where this can occur.

...read more.



Appendix A: Table of Figures

Figure 1: Positron being released in a cloud chamber

Figure 2: Feynman Diagram of Beta Decay

Figure 3: Energy Released in Beta-Decay

Figure 4: Beta-plus decay

Figure 5: Feynman diagram showing the annihilation of an electron-positron pair

Figure 6: Antiproton Decelerator schematics

Figure 7: Penning Trap

Figure 8: Electric Fields within a Penning Trap

Below, Figure 9 plots the path of an antihydrogen atom in one of these traps.

Figure 10: Path of an antihydrogen atom in a Penning Trap

Figure 11: Graph of Energy Density

Figure 12:  Photon Emission in PET Scanning

Although the antimatter is a very useful substance, it is simply worth too much to be efficient. When it was first created, less than one trillionth of a gram was seen as remarkable, and when creating this amount of the material is abnormal or strange, then there is little point in investing the money or energy into created a large amount of antimatter using the techniques we have at the moment. Although antimatter could be a valid energy production source (see Figure 13 for evidence of this,) first a valid method of creating or harnessing the antimatter fuel must be created.

Figure 1: Image from http://athena-positrons.web.cern.ch/ATHENA-positrons/wwwathena/anderson.html

Figure 2: Image from Uppsala website:  http://www.linnaeus.uu.se/online/phy/microcosmos/different_forces.html

Figure 3: Image from Physics Revealed by F.A. Scott, page 48

Figure 4: Adapted from Image from Physics Revealed by F.A. Scott, page 48

Figure 5: http://teachers.web.cern.ch/teachers/archiv/HST2002/feynman/

Figure 6: CERN press release, http://public.web.cern.ch/press/pressreleases/Releases1997/PR01.97/DA_A.gif

Figure 7: http://athena-positrons.web.cern.ch/ATHENA-positrons/wwwathena/penning.html

Figure 8: http://livefromcern.web.cern.ch/livefromcern/antimatter/factory/ADpictures/trap-big.jpg

Figure 9: http://www.physik.uni-mainz.de/werth/g_fak/penning.htm

Appendix B: Bibliography

Appendix C: Synoptic Links


Page  of

[1] Encyclopaedia of Surface and Colloid Science, Ponisseril Somasundaran (pg. 5103)

[2] Data and Information gathered from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density

...read more.

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