I have heard that antimatter has been produced and collected in the Large Hadron Collider and that it reacts violently with matter. Could this be used as a method of propulsion and if so what would be the theoretical thrust and impulse generated?

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    $\begingroup$ Matthew Spear - the answer is already there: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/69440/… $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ While it does appear to be in scope after the edit, it is duplicate of the physics that Deer Hunter mentions $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 1, 2013 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JamesJenkins I believe that it's not considered a dupe if the dupe is on another stack. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2013 at 14:32

1 Answer 1


Yes, antimatter can be used to propel a spacecraft. The concept of an antimatter rocket is what we're after.

enter image description here

Just a concept drawing, but it gives us an idea of what we're talking about.

Another article discusses such a rocket (highlights here):

Smash a lump of matter into antimatter and it will release a thousand times more energy than the same mass of fuel in a nuclear fission reactor and some 2 billion times more than burning the equivalent in hydrocarbons.


First, some basic rocket science. The maximum speed of a rocket depends on its exhaust velocity, the fraction of mass devoted to fuel and the configuration of the rocket stages.


So these guys focus on the exhaust velocity–the speed of the particles produced in matter-antimatter annihilations as they leave the rocket engine.

The thrust from these annihilations comes largely from using a magnetic field to deflect charged particles created in the annihilation. These guys focus on the annihilation of protons and anti-protons to produce charged pions.

In the past, various physicists have calculated that the pions should travel at over 90 per cent the speed of light but that the nozzle would be only 36 per cent efficient. That translates into an average exhaust velocity of only a third of light-speed, barely relativistic and somewhat of a disappointment for antimatter propulsion fans.

All that is set to change now, however. Keane and Zhang have come up with a different set of figures with the help of software developed by CERN that simulates the interaction between particles, matter and fields of various kinds.

CERN uses this software, called GEANT4 (short for Geometry and Tracking 4), to better understand how particles behave at the Large Hadron Collider, which itself collides beams of protons and anti-protons. So it’s ideally suited to Keane and Zhang’s task.

... To continue reading, click here. I'm not going to copy the whole thing.

It's a decent report on the subject, and one that doesn't read like dry sandpaper.

All in all, it's certainly possible - if you can get your hands on the antimatter.

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    $\begingroup$ But don't get antimatter on your hands. $\endgroup$
    – Mark Adler
    Commented Sep 13, 2013 at 5:45
  • $\begingroup$ Also note that you're going to need some spectacularly robust shielding given the amount of energy released. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 31, 2019 at 7:12

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