The stuff of science fiction is one step closer after the paper released Sunday evening in the journal of Nature Physics. Lead author Makato Fujiwara claims to have successfully stored antimatter atoms for more than 16 minutes. This is a monumental feat as previously this rare substance has only been able to be captured and studied for only fractions of a second “It’s a kind of game-changer,” said Fujiwara.
The reason this substance is so rare is that once Antimatter comes into contact with matter they annihilate each other, releasing a large amount of energy. So here’s the rub, how do you capture something that annihilates itself and whatever you would design to hold it? They created a cylindrical container, created a vacuum and used magnets to keep the antimatter from touching the walls thus suspending it.
This discovery now opens up the door to new studies on the elusive substance such as whether gravity attracts or repels antimatter, or in laymen’s terms does it fall up or down? While we are still light years away from using antimatter as a fuel source, we are one step closer to making it a reality.