Matter / Antimatter Reaction Chamber
|Name||Matter / Antimatter Reaction Chamber|
|TechStatus||Star Trek Canon|
- 1 Background
- 2 Technical Specification
Nearly 340 years ago, shortly after the third World War, a Scientist known as Zefram Cochrane began a project he endeavoured to be the "Warp Drive." Warp Drive was singlely the most important invention ever created for mankind. Shortly after its development, poverty, disease, famine, all of these things ceased to exist. Zefram's test ship was to be known as the Phoenix, whose test flight resulted in First Contact with an alien race known as the Vulcans. Almost 100 years later, the Federation was established. Now a days, Warp Drive is the primary propulsion of most, Faster-than-Light (FTL) Main power spacecraft.
In the simplest of explanations, Matter and Anti-matter are both stored on opposing sides of each other (because of the explosive power they produce when collided) and are brought together in a central chanmber for annihilation. Anti-matter is most unstable, and as such it stored at the bottom with only a deck plate's distance in between for easy dumping.
Warp Core Componants
Matter / Antimatter Containment
Matter and Anti matter are stored aboard starships in special containment units that use electromagnetic feilds (in the case of Antimatter) to prevent contact with the actual storage units` material, which would lead to premature annihilation.
Matter is stored directly above the warp core as it is inert.
Antimatter is stored directly below the warpcore with only a single plate of armor separating between space and the contaiment pods (To allow for immediate Jetsam.)
Antimatter: Matter whose electrical charge properties are the opposite of "normal" matter.
For example, a "normal" proton has a positive charge, but an antiproton has a negative charge. When a particle of antimatter is brought into contact with an equivalent particle of normal matter, both particles are annihilated, and a considerable amount of energy is released. Another example is the electron. A normal electron has a negative charge, but an anti-electron, called a positron, has a positive charge.
Positrons have less energy potential and are harder to keep stable in the annihilation process (due to the fact that they are merely (mind the pun) an electrical charge. As such, Protons and Anti-protons are used to power Faster-than-light propulsion. A little history on anti-matter:
After the Big Bang, in the infinitesimal moments after the universe was first created, "space" was seething with energy. This energy was constantly shifting from Energy to Matter, and back to Energy again. In near instant reactions pure Energy spawned Protons and Anti Protons which then immediately annihilated, turning back to Energy. At some point, for some unknown reason, for every 100 Anti Protons 101 Protons were created. This abnormality broke the cycle of Energy --> Matter --> Energy, leaving 1 additional Proton after every cycle. As you can well imagine this meant that more and more Energy was being "trapped" as matter which caused the universe to "cool" substantially. Once the ambient temperature dropped below a critical line, Energy was no longer able to shift to matter and so what was left were the Protons remaining from before. This is why the majority of our universe is composed of "normal" matter which makes up everything we see and know today.
Species that use M/AM propulsion produce anti-matter in large concentrations utilizing quantum reversal devices, to complete the transition from matter to anti-matter. Of course, in extreme cases of emergency, antimatter production on starships is possible, but never recommended. The anti-protons and anti-neutrons are then combined to form the nuclei of anti-heavy hydrogen.
Matter / Anti-Matter Injectors
The injectors are the first stage of the warp core, they feed controlled streams of matter and antimatter into the reaction chamber. The matter injector is situated at the top of the warp column (the large column seen in engineering) and the antimatter injectors are situated directly opposite at the bottom of the column. Reactants are injected into the reaction chamber via the warp column, and are held suspended from the column by magnetic constriction fields generated by the magnetic constriction segments.
Magnetic Constriction Segments
The magnetic constriction segments are small electromagnetic field generators that control the flow and pressure of incoming reactants injected by the reactant injectors. The segments also suspend reactants within the column preventing reactant contact with the column walls. If for example antimatter were to come in contact with the matter from which the column is constructed a catastrophic explosion would occur as the two would react. There are many magnetic constrictors in the warp column, which act in sequence feeding the reactants down the column and into the Matter Anti-Matter Reactant Chamber. As the constrictors fire they emit photons which are the characteristic blue pulse within the column which can be seen from engineering.
Matter Anti-Matter Reactant Chamber
The reaction chamber is in the heart of the warp core and is where the annihilation reaction takes place. The chamber houses the Dilthium crystal and primary power converter.
The Dilithium crystal is shaped and tuned very precisely to control the reaction between the matter and the antimatter when it takes place. When the two reactants strike the crystal the antimatter stream passes up through the crystal to meet the matter stream at the correct time, phase and angle.
Finally when the two meet the crystal finely tunes the subsequent reaction into a highly focused stream of plasma, which is directed into the primary power converter and down the power couplings. It is this Electro plasma that powers the ships systems and more importantly is what is used to activate the field coils which are the basis of warp flight.
For the Dilithium to create a controlled annihilation of matter and antimatter, the anti-heavy-hydrogen protons, and the normal protons are all threaded through the atom lattices of the crystals where they meet, and eventually collide. The Dilithium crystals, known more commonly by their scientific formula:
2<5>6 dilithium 2<:>1 diallosilicate 1:9:1 heptoferranide can regulate the antimater density, and thus the matter-antimatter reaction rate, since the lattices of the crystals remain a fixed distance both from atoms of normal matter and one another (just keep metreon radiation far out of reach from it :) When these two matters annihilate they create a type of warp plasma [Plasma is ionized gas, typically hotter than the corona of a star, which is around 2 million degrees celsius]. This also creates a spike in gamma radiation about 1 geV (Giga-electron volts), thus the warp ion trail of antiprotons and gamma radiation that we often track cloaked ships with.
Dilithium is an element.
Symbol DL. Atomic Number 87
A member of the Hypersonic series, mostly occuring as crystalline mineral (known also by the longer formula-
- 2(5)6 dilithlum 2(:)l diallosilicate 1:9:1 heptoferranide
that is used in the warp drive systems of many starships. Dilithium regulates the matter / antimatter reactions, thereby controlling the amount of power generated in the reaction chamber as the mutual annihilation creates a stream of electro-plasma.
Scientifically, use of the prefix "di-" denotes two atoms, suggesting dilithium consists of two atoms of lithium. For many years it was considered that such a theoretical element could not exist since lithium, being a metal, should not be able to exist in this state, as metals cannot form diatomic particles. In the mid 2200s a supply of Dilithium was secured and the new crystals were introduced onto the Constitution class
- Dilithium is the only known substance that whilst under a strong magnetic field allows antimatter to pass through it without reaction.
One must also realize that for the controlled annihilation to become possible, one would have to have a reasonable amount of anti-matter nuclei for every amount of matter nuclei. The mistake that most cadets make at the academy is to believe that warp factor cochranes (units of subspace distortion) can be created on the premise of different annihilation ratios:
The only time the annihilation ratios (or intecjection ratios) are not constant is usually during low warp or engine startup (in which case you might see 10:1 or even 20:1) The most efficient utilization of the dilithium crystalline lattice is 1:1. Thus, the ratio used at high-warp (above warp 8) is 1 proton-neutron (matter nuclei) to every 1 antiproton-antineutron (nuclei). 1/1 1:1 what have you..
That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that only one matter nuclei and one anti-matter nuclei are annihilated at the same time. Each lattice thread can control the annihilation of a matter and anti-matter nuclei. The matter and anti-matter stream is articulated well enough with the Dilithium crystals to keep the injection ratios as efficiently as possible..
Since billions of nuclei are annihilated at once, often, you aren't really powering warp drive on one nuclei of anti-matter and one of matter. The formulae usually relate to individual lattice threads.. Different intermix formulae can best determine how much matter and anti-matter go into the drive at one time, but.. Your mileage may very.