Antimatter is literally the inverse of matter. It has the same structure, mass and rotation as matter, but with opposite sign of electric charge.
The encounter between a particle and its antiparticle generates annihilation, that is, both are destroyed and a high amount of energy is released. Currently, it is known that even particles such as quarks, constituents of electrons, have antiparticles.
The concept of antiparticles was proposed by the English physicist Paul Dirac (1902-1984) in 1928. After analyzing the relationship established by Einstein about matter and energy , Dirac proposed that mass could be considered with the negative sign. Dirac’s ideas opened the door to the discovery of positrons, which are antiparticles to electrons.
The American physicist Carl Anderson detected positive electrons (positrons) through an experiment to analyze jets of space energy carried out in 1932. In 1995, antihydrogen atoms, composed of a positron rotating around an antiproton, were constructed.
Production, storage and applications
Antimatter is produced through collisions between particles. These collisions are carried out in particle accelerators such as Fermilab (USA) and Cern (Europe). Antiparticles are stored by entrapment in magnetic fields . Antiparticles cannot touch the walls of the container that surrounds them. If that happened, there would be annihilation between the matter that constitutes the container and the antimatter.
Antiparticles are already used in diagnostic imaging. The PET scan , for example, is a positron emission tomography in which three-dimensional images are formed from the interaction, which is harmless, of positrons with the human body.
Bombs more powerful than nuclear warheads and reactors for the production of electrical energy are also possibilities for the use of antimatter.
The laws of physics are symmetric for the use of particles and antiparticles. This means that if the universe were entirely made up of antiparticles, it would be perceived in exactly the same way as it is.