Here’s a little slice of sci-fi that’s finally become reality. Scientists at the University of Michigan have created a desktop-sized antimatter gun that is capable of firing brief blasts of electrons and positrons. A paper in the journal Physical Review Letters explains the process.
…the heart of the antimatter gun is a petawatt laser that is fired at a sample of helium gas, knocking electrons out of the inert gas at a high rate of speed. The fast-moving particles are then directed into a sheet of metal foil, in which they collide with individual metal atoms. Those high-energy collisions result in a spray of electrons and positrons, which are separated by a magnet to make them easier to study.
Those of you contemplating a life of supervillainy, calm down. This isn’t exactly large enough to hold a city captive. The scientists behind the antimatter gun say they plan to use it to for good to learn more about black holes, which emit positrons and electrons. Of course, should one of those scientists suddenly go bad, we could all be in a lot of trouble.