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Q & A: Creation of positrons

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Most recent answer: 08/18/2011
Q:
I have searched all over the internet to look at how positrons are created. So my question is, how is a positron made and how to construct a generator that creates positrons? If you can't explain the last part in detail, it's no problem.
- Matt (age 16)
philly, PA, USA
A:
There are several mechanisms for creating positrons.  Some natural radioactive nuclei have a decay channel that emits positrons for example: C116  --> B115 + e+ + ve + 0.96 MeV.   The fundamental process is that of a proton decaying into a neutron, a positive electron, and an electron-type neutrino.  Positrons can also be created by high energy photons interacting with the field of a nucleus:  the fundamental process is  γ + nucleus --> e+ + e- + nucleus.  
Positrons were predicted by Paul Dirac in 1928. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1933.   Positrons were observed by Carl Anderson in 1932 who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1936 for his work.
In order to generate them yourself you need a sufficiently high energy accelerator. Non-trivial.

LeeH








(published on 08/18/2011)

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