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Scientists Propose Method To Turn Light Into Matter

Update Date: May 19, 2014 04:18 AM EDT

Physicists at Imperial College of London have reportedly discovered how to create matter from light, 80 years after the idea was theorized. 

According to the theory proposed by scientists Breit and Wheeler in 1934, it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of lights (photons), to create an electron and a positron. The calculation well founded mathematically but the inventors of the theory said it was impossible to demonstrate it physically. 

However, for the first time researchers have now proved the theory in practice. 

The 'photon-photon-collider' would convert light directly into the matter, and is also readily available. This experiment would recreate a process that was important in the first 100 seconds of the universe and that is also seen in gamma ray bursts, which are the biggest explosions in the universe and one of physics' greatest unsolved mysteries, read the press release.

Researchers were investigating unrelating problems in fusion energy when they realized that it could be also applied to the Breit-Wheeler theory. 

"Despite all physicists accepting the theory to be true, when Breit and Wheeler first proposed the theory, they said that they never expected it be shown in the laboratory. Today, nearly 80 years later, we prove them wrong. What was so surprising to us was the discovery of how we can create matter directly from light using the technology that we have today in the UK. As we are theorists we are now talking to others who can use our ideas to undertake this landmark experiment," said Professor Steve Rose from the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, in the press release.

"Although the theory is conceptually simple, it has been very difficult to verify experimentally. We were able to develop the idea for the collider very quickly, but the experimental design we propose can be carried out with relative ease and with existing technology. Within a few hours of looking for applications of hohlraums outside their traditional role in fusion energy research, we were astonished to find they provided the perfect conditions for creating a photon collider. The race to carry out and complete the experiment is on!" lead researcher Oliver Pike who is currently completing his PhD in plasma physics, added in the press release. 

The findings of the research have been published in the journal Nature Photonics. 

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