Physicists from the Queen’s University of Belfast have developed an affordable antimatter gun, relatively speaking. They used the University of Michigan’s HERCULES petawatt laser to produce short gun-like bursts (30 femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second) of positrons, anti-electrons associated with antimatter. The meter long tabletop device is significantly cheaper than the 190 meter long particle accelerator at CERN yet produced a comparable density of particles. Rest assured, antimatter won’t be weaponized any time soon.
“There is no possibility to make antimatter bombs for the same reason you cannot use it to store energy: we can’t accumulate enough of it at high enough density,” CERN says on its website. “If we could assemble all the antimatter we’ve ever made at CERN and annihilate it with matter, we would have enough energy to light a single electric light bulb for a few minutes.”
The physicists have a more practical use in mind for the antimatter gun. It will be used to directly study similar antimatter particles emitted from black holes and pulsars.