CREATORS of the world’s most advanced computational methods to model the interaction of positrons, a Curtin University team may revolutionise quantum physics by discovering which physical processes annihilate positrons.
Associate Professor and ARC Future Fellow Dmitry Fursa from the Centre of Excellence in Antimatter Studies says, “We have developed an advanced scattering theory method, Convergent Close-Coupling method, to study positron with atoms’ interactions with matter (electrons, atoms, ions, etc)”.
“This method proved to be very successful in study of electron–atom interactions since our research group is the leader in the field since the early 1990’s.
“We now are trying to modify theoretical formulation and computer code of the Convergent Close-Coupling method with aim to apply it to study positron interactions with atoms and molecules.”
Studying positron scattering from hydrogen, helium, rare gases, alkaline and alkaline-earth atoms, Dr Fursa says the objective is to understand fundamental properties of interactions between those quantum objects.
“We use research tools to study various theoretical models of interactions between quantum objects and apply such models to predict properties of quantum processes that are important not only for fundamental research but also for practical applications.”
Dr Fursa and his team are working closely with the Centre for Antimatter-Matter Studies (CAMS) to look at improving techniques and technologies used in Material sciences, as well as biological sciences.
“A large part of our research is devoted to positron–atom scattering as positron physics has been of interest for a long time to fundamental science.
“However, currently positrons are widely used in medical applications such as positron emission tomography and engineering (non-destructive testing).
“Now that the basics of physics of positron interactions with atoms are better understood, we can design better and more accurate diagnostic tools as well as will open many new possibilities, which for now remain unknown.”
According to the CAMS, positrons also have practical pursuits and can be a useful tool in the analysis of material structure.
“By looking at the lifetime of the positrons in the material, we can get information about the size and distribution of holes, or defects, that are about 1 nanometre in size.
“Holes of this size are related to important properties in some materials, such as porosity and conductivity.
“They can also be an early indicator of material degradation.”
Recently returned from the International Conference on Photonic, Electronic and Atomic Collisions in the UK, Prof Fursa and his team are leading global quantum physics research and are putting WA at the forefront of fundamental discoveries.