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Matter Will Be Made From Light Within A Year, Researchers Claim

Scientists have worked out how to create matter from pure light and are drawing up strategies to exhibit the achievement within the next 12 months.

The theory behind the concept was first defined 80 years ago by two physicists who later worked on the first atomic bomb. At the time they deliberated the conversion of light into matter impossible in a laboratory.

But in a report printed on Sunday, physicists at Imperial College London claim to have tackled the problem using high-powered lasers and other gear now available to researchers.

“We have shown in principle how you can make matter from light,” said Steven Rose at Imperial. “If you do this experiment, you will be taking light and turning it into matter.”

The researchers are not on the verge of a machine that can make everyday objects from a rapid blast of laser energy. The kind of matter they target to make comes in the form of subatomic particles too small to see from naked eye.

The researchers’ calculations illustrate that the setup crushes enough particles of light with high sufficient energies into a small enough volume to generate about 100,000 electron-positron pairs.

The process is one of the most remarkable forecasts of a theory called quantum electrodynamics (QED) that was advanced in the run up to the Second World War. “You might call it the most dramatic result of QED and it clearly shows that light and matter are interchangeable,” Rose told the Guardian.

The researchers are confident to exhibit the process in the next 12 months. There are a number of locations around the world that have the technology. One is the huge Omega laser in Rochester, New York. But another is the Orion laser at Aldermaston, the atomic weapons facility in Berkshire.

A fruitful experiment will inspire physicists who have been eyeing the view of a photon-photon collider as a tool to study how subatomic particles behave. “Such a collider could be used to study basic physics with a very clean experimental setup: pure light goes in, matter comes out. The experiment would be the first demonstration of this,” Pike said.


Andrei Seryi, director of the John Adams Institute at Oxford University, said: “It’s breathtaking to ponder that things we thought are not linked can in fact be transformed to each other: matter and energy, particles and light. Would we be capable in the future to convert energy into time and vice versa?”