Antimatter

The term Antimatter has been much talked about during CERN Experiment on Higgs Boson. Antimatter is material composed of antiparticles, which possess the same mass as particles of ordinary matter but have opposite charge and quantum  spin. Antiparticles bind with each other to form antimatter in the same way that normal particles bind to form normal matter. An example is Antihydrogen atom which is composed of positron (the antiparticle of the electron, with symbol e+) and an antiproton (symbol p).

What happens when Antimatter comes in contact with matter?

Mixing of matter and antimatter can lead to the annihilation of both, in the same way that mixing antiparticles and particles does. The phenomenon generates high-energy photons (gamma rays) or other particle–antiparticle pairs. The end result of antimatter meeting matter is a release of energy  proportional to the mass as the mass-energy equivalence equation, E=mc2shows.

Significance

Antiparticles can be produced both naturally as well as artificially by radioactive β+ decay.

  • The reaction of matter-antimatter releases huge energy and this can be a potent fuel source specially for interplanetary travels. The energy density of antimatter is higher than that of conventional fuels, an antimatter fueled spacecraft would have a higher thrust-to-weight ratio than a conventional spacecraft.
  • Positron which is a constituent of Antimatter is already in medical use in PET (Positron Emission Tomography).
  • Antiprotons have also been found helpful in treatment of certain cancers.

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