Generation of neutral and high-density electron-positron pair plasmas in the laboratory

Generation of neutral and high-density electron-positron pair plasmas in the laboratory
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G. Sarri, K. Poder, J.M. Cole, W. Schumaker, A. Di Piazz4, B. Reville, T. Dzelzainis, D. Doria, L.A. Gizzi,
G. Grittani, S. Kar, C.H. Keitel, K. Krushelnick, S. Kuschel, S.P.D. Mangles, Z. Najmudin, N. Shukla,
L.O. Silva, D. Symes, A.G.R. Thomas, M. Vargas, J. Vieira, and M. Zepf

Nature Communications, 6, 6747 (2015)

Abstract

Electron–positron pair plasmas represent a unique state of matter, whereby there exists an intrinsic and complete symmetry between negatively charged (matter) and positively charged (antimatter) particles. These plasmas play a fundamental role in the dynamics of ultra-massive astrophysical objects and are believed to be associated with the emission of ultra-bright gamma-ray bursts. Despite extensive theoretical modelling, our knowledge of this state of matter is still speculative, owing to the extreme difficulty in recreating neutral matter–antimatter plasmas in the laboratory. Here we show that, by using a compact laser-driven setup, ion-free electron–positron plasmas with unique characteristics can be produced. Their charge neutrality (same amount of matter and antimatter), high-density and small divergence finally open up the possibility of studying electron–positron plasmas in controlled laboratory experiments.

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