Research NewsPhysics

Conjuring Matter From Light

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Science  29 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5330, pp. 1202
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5330.1202

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Turning matter into light, heat, and other forms of energy is nothing new, as nuclear bombs spectacularly demonstrate. Now a team of physicists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center has demonstrated the inverse process--the first creation of matter out of light. They boosted laser photons to ultrahigh energies with the help of the Stanford accelerator, then collided them so violently that the interactions spawned particles of matter and antimatter: electrons and positrons (antielectrons).