Russian physicists have found a way to turn light into antimatter

The theory of quantum electrodynamics describes the process of separating "virtual" electron-positron pairs from a vacuum - if you act on a medium with a powerful electric field, they will go into a different state and appear in our real world. The Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences proposes to use a super-powerful laser for this, that is, to use ordinary light as an energy source.

The authors of the idea are Evgeny Nerush and Igor Kostyukov, who are experimenting with a laser with a power of a million terawatts, irradiating thin sheets of foil with it. They expected to see the usual abundance of gamma rays and photons, but calculations showed that when light collided with a metal, a lot of positrons would be released. This is antimatter in its simplest form.

In quantum theory, there is the concept of a "quantum electrodynamic cascade". Inside the foil sheet there is an excess of free electrons, which upon contact with the laser beam are accelerated and begin to emit photons. Those, in turn, immediately disintegrate into electron-positron pairs and the process repeats again and again. As a result, the laser-irradiated area is filled with positrons in an amount sufficient to be able to work with them, and not only to record the fact of presence.

Kostyukov and Nerush calculated that the distribution of positrons would take the shape of a spiral, which would make it possible to predict where and how many particles of antimatter would be. This is the key to its subject study and practical application - so far everything remains at the level of calculations, but the day is not far off when Russian physicists will switch to the practice of obtaining antimatter.