The current belief is that freezing it as anti-lithium or anti-carbon would make it easier to handle. Gerald Jackson has made progress on the steps to produce anti-lithium and anti-carbon and to store it.
Before entering the private sector in the autumn of 2000, Dr. Gerald Jackson was an accelerator physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for 14 years. He received his doctorate in Physics from Cornell University in 1987. His thesis committee included Nobel Prize winner Kenneth Wilson, and his thesis advisor was one of a long line of influential physicists, including Robert Wilson (Manhattan Project and Founder of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) and Ernest Lawrence (Nobel Prize winner and inventor of the cyclotron). Dr. Jackson has published an extensive body of work in the areas of beam physics, accelerator technology, deep-space propulsion, nuclear physics, and medical physics. He was co-recipient of the 1999 IEEE Accelerator Technology Award for his design and construction leadership of a 2-mile circumference particle accelerator, was inducted as a fellow of the American Physical Society, and elevated to senior member of the IEEE. He has an international reputation in the areas of instrumentation, vacuum technology, robotics, particle beam control, facility construction, and space propulsion, earning him many invitations to present invited talks and teach. His work has been profiled in Scientific American and in the book “Physics of the Impossible” by popular physicist Michio Kaku. He served on U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) high energy physics institutional reviews, having reviewed the programs of former DOE cabinet secretaries Stephen Chu and Ernest Moniz. He is also a referee for scientific peer-reviewed journals, SBIR grant proposals, and accelerator research grant proposals. In 2000 Dr. Jackson received a Federal Energy and Water Management Award, and in 2002 he received a Federal Energy Saving Showcase Award. In 2002 he co-founded the company Hbar Technologies, LLC which performed research projects funded by NASA, the DOE, and DARPA. He is currently the President and CEO of Hbar Technologies, LLC.
Design the particle accelerator complex needed to produce several grams of antiprotons each year
This is where most of the theoretical particle and accelerator physics efforts will reside.
The work plan includes:
⇒ Design the antiproton target station geometry
⇒ Calculate the expected antiproton yield
⇒ Optimize the proton kinetic energy on the target
⇒ Design the proton accelerator complex upstream of the target
⇒ Design the antiproton accelerator complex downstream of the target
⇒ Calculate the amount of proton energy recovery that can be expected
Estimate the equipment and operational costs of such an antiproton complex, producing a preliminary design report
Taking the above theoretical work, a design report will be generated wherein the equipment and operational costs of the antiproton production facility will be documented. The work plan includes:
Determine cost/benefit differences between pulsed and continuous beam operations
Produce a cost estimate for the proton accelerator complex
Produce a cost estimate for the antiproton accelerator complex
Estimate the annual manpower and utility costs of the entire facility
Produce a design report that specifies all of the processes and equipment necessary for the production of antilithium
The work plan includes:
Step 1: Production of antideuterons
Step 2: Production of antihelium-3
Step 3: Production of antihelium-4
Step 4: Production of antiberyllium-7
Step 5: Production of antilithium-7
Calculate the expected storage lifetime of antilithium in the production facility
Estimate the equipment and operational costs for antilithium production
Taking the above design report, the equipment and operational costs of the antilithium production facility will be estimated. The work plan includes:
Produce a cost estimate for the antilithium accelerator complex
Estimate the annual manpower and utility costs of the antilithium complex
Plan a program of future campaigns aimed at experimentally demonstrating the nucleosynthesis and storage of antilithium
With all of the above work completed, design a series of validation experiments proving the feasibility of antilithium nucleosynthesis. In order to minimize costs, these experiments will work with normal matter instead of antimatter. The series of experiments includes:
Build two proton storage rings in order to demonstrate the production of a beam of deuterons
Build a deuteron storage ring intersecting with a proton storage ring to demonstrate the production of a beam of helium-3 nuclei
Build a helium-3 storage ring intersecting with a deuteron storage ring to demonstrate the production of a beam of helium-4 nuclei
Build a proton recovery beam line for capture of proton produced in the production of helium-4 nuclei
Build a helium-4 storage ring intersecting with a helium-3 storage ring to demonstrate the production of a beam of beryllium-7 nuclei
Build a trap for the storage and production of singly-ionized beryllium-7 atoms
Build a separate trap for the long-term storage of gram-quantities of lithium-7
They explored three possible mechanisms for levitating the accumulated antimatter.
1. levitation via momentum transfer, wherein the free positrons and antinuclei have an upward vertical trajectory when absorbed.
2. Electrostatic suspension similar to the Millikan oil-drop experiment.
3. Use the diamagnetic properties of the various forms of antimatter.
In the previous update the heating of the accumulated antimatter due to the kinetic energy of the incoming positrons and antinuclei was quantified. When these particles give up their kinetic energy in the form of heat, they also give up their momentum in the inelastic collision. As in the case of rockets, the change of momentum is equal to a thrust (or force).
There is a maximum kinetic energy that the antinuclei and positrons can deposit into the spherical accumulated antimatter due to excessive temperature. This maximum kinetic energy increases as the radius of the sphere increases. Operationally, this momentum transfer could be delivered by a positron and antinucleus storage ring intersecting vertically upward within a Penning trap. Such a geometry is sketched in the figure below.
Unfortunately, only for accumulations of anticarbon-14 less than or equal to 3.4 mg (three hours of accumulation at a rate of 10 grams per year) can be levitated in this manner. The reason that only carbon can levitated in this manner is a surface emissivity close to unity and a very high maximum temperature. For lithium, beryllium, and boron the maximum accumulation of antimatter for which this form of levitation can be successfully employed is less than a milligram.
In the case of electrostatic levitation, an electrostatic field applies an upward force that cancels the weight of the accumulated antimatter. A very close analog of this geometry was employed in the Millikan oil-drop experiment.
In order to levitate the antimatter sphere in the center of the electrodes, the electrostatic force on the net charge of the sphere must be equal and opposite to the force of gravity. The electrostatic force is equal to the electric field (produced by the voltage difference between the top and bottom electrodes) times the net charge Qnet of the antimatter sphere. The smaller the value of Qnet, the bigger V must be for a given sphere mass and electrode spacing.
Therefore, the choice is to increase the net charge of the sphere or the voltage on the electrodes until levitation is achieved. The classical limit for a voltage difference between two electrodes in a high vacuum enclosure is approximately 1 MegaVolt per meter. If h is the distance from the top or bottom electrode to the sphere center, the value of the levitating electric field is V/h. For electric fields much smaller than the 1 MV/m limit, the electric field in the center of a Penning trap would cause the free positrons and antinuclei to deflect, miss the sphere, and hit the walls of the trap.
The concept was to bunch up the positrons and antinuclei so that they pass the sphere in a discrete pulse and leave a period of time within which the electrodes can be pulsed to the desired voltage without affecting the positrons and antinuclei. Unfortunately, there is a fundamental problem with this concept.
The electric field generated by the electrodes must act on a nonzero net charge Qnet.
The charged sphere creates its own electric field. As stated earlier, the desired net charge of the sphere is negative in order to avoid thermionic positron emission and secondary emission of positrons due to ion and positron depositions. If the resultant electric field created by the sphere is too large, antinuclei will be deflected away from the sphere, halting antimatter accumulation.
The problem is that the net charge of the sphere cannot be eliminated and reinstated on the time scale of any gap plausible in the positron and antinuclei pulse structure. This net charge must be considered a constant.
So the key question is how big do these voltages actually have to be to implement electrostatic levitation. The answer is too high. Assuming the maximum voltage between the top and bottom electrodes, a 1-month accumulation of anticarbon and antilithium would require a sphere surface voltage of 49,500 and 30,600 Volts, respectively. This exceeds the maximum kinetic energy (presented in the previous update) of the antinuclei in both cases, meaning that accumulation is no longer possible. It turns out that this problem extends across all forms of antimatter (antilithium, antiberyllium, antiboron, and anticarbon) and across all accumulation time scales.
There are basically three types of magnetic materials: paramagnetic, ferromagnetic, and diamagnetic. Technically ferromagnetism can occur in three particular forms, but for the purposes of this update we will ignore these details. Many materials have a diamagnetic component to their reaction to an external magnetic field, but for materials such as iron and nickel and permanent magnets their paramagnetic or ferromagnetic properties are dominant.
For the elements that we are interested in, the following table contains their magnetic type and the value of their diamagnetic susceptibility. Note that for diamagnetic levitation during antimatter accumulation the only viable options are antiberyllium, antiboron, and anticarbon.
For the case of levitating antimatter, preliminary calculations indicate that diamagnetic levitation is plausible. Much more work needs to go into these calculations before we are comfortable presenting them to you, our backers. We have a concept for a pulsed magnetic field that can be applied in the time gaps between positron and antinuclei deposition into the accumulated antimatter. Spin-stabilized magnetic levitation mentioned in the previous update is also closely related to this general topic.
In the near future an update devoted to magnetic levitation will be published. The conclusion of this update is that momentum transfer and electrostatic levitation are too weak to counteract the acceleration of gravity. Of course, antimatter accumulation in zero gravity bypasses this entire issue, though unfortunately inserting a host of other unrelated difficulties.
Rapid Accumulation of Antimatter
They presented processes to form the nuclei Li7Bar, Be9Bar, B11Bar, and C14Bar.
The next step is to find a robust method for adding positrons and forming a solid antimatter lump from these antinuclei stored in a trap.
The purpose of this update is to outline such a rapid accumulation method. There are three analogs in the everyday world that can be invoked to paint a clear mental image of the proposed method.
First, take the problem of planetary accretion. In the beginning of a solar system there exists small dust particles in orbit about the star. As the theory goes, over time collisions and friction cause these independent particles to accumulate into a massive lump that sweeps up the rest of the dust as it orbits the star. There is a “meter-size” problem with the theory in that there seems no way to go from dust to intact objects over a meter in diameter.
Second, take the formation of hail. Ice crystals are held aloft by thermal currents within thunderclouds. As the crystals move up and down within the cloud, they accumulate even more water to grow into a hail stone. At some point either the thermals weaken or the hail stones become too massive, and they fall out of the sky.
The third analog is the starter mass for making sourdough bread. The starter mass is a living thing, and some have reportedly been growing continuously for hundreds of years. If your want to make sourdough bread, you split the starter mass and feed the remaining portion by adding flour and water. The yeast consumes these foods to grow the starter mass back to the original size.
The general idea is to deposit unbound antinuclei and positrons into an existing lump of antimatter, The bonds between atoms and molecules, and scattering off those atoms and molecules, allow the positrons and antinuclei to form yet more neutralized atoms and molecules which are incorporated into the ever-growing lump.
Accelerator architecture that can produce a positron current.
Experiments in which the formation of whiskers of lithium might be attempted are required. Using a levitation system, a Penning-type trap, a thermionic electron source, a laser, and a lithium ion emitter, the accumulation and cleaving of grauples can be demonstrated. Such an experiment would be relatively low-cost and quantify several aspects of rapid accumulation and storage of (anti)matter.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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