Physicists at Imperial College London are examining a theory, put forward in 1934, which proposed that smashing two photons – light particles – together could create matter. The researchers now believe the theory can be tested using a device known as a photon-photon collider.
Although scientists at the university believe they can create matter, at this stage the end result would not be visible to the naked eye.
Professor Steve Rose, from imperial College, said: “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.”
Two varied photons are created using different methods. The first will use a high intensity laser to speed electrons up to near the speed of light. They will then be fired at a slab of gold which will beam photons with a billion times more energy than lightspeed. The second source is created by a high-energy laser fired into a gold canister called hohlraum (cavity, in German) which creates thermal radiation equivalent to the light of stars. The two forms then collide to create around 100,000 electron-positron pairs.
The experiment is scheduled to take place next year.