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I am aware that two photons can combine to form an electron and positron pair, but if any matter and antimatter can annihilate to form photons, shouldn't there be a way for photons, or any energy for that matter, to turn back into quarks other than electrons?

EDIT FOR CLARIFICATION: I am simply wondering if photons, or any energy for that matter, can create matter other than electrons/positrons. Specifically, I am wondering if photons could form antiquarks/antiprotons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sure, you just need the resultant energy density to be sufficient. And for the created result to be stable enough to hang around long enough to be observed. That second bit is the problem, as electrons are one of the very, very few truely elemental particles that can exist naked by themselves. A quark by itself is so lonely, it suicides instantaneously. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jun 16, 2021 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @PcMan, but would you please mind elaborating? Is there an exact process that energy would have to go through, or is it just that if there is enough energy is a set amount of space, then it will just follow E=mc^2? $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2021 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Try this link: medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/… $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jun 16, 2021 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Then, is there any way to turn energy into say a proton? $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2021 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, you just need the resultant energy density to be sufficient. And for the created result to be stable enough.Hmm, that sounds familiar, i'm sure i've heard it somewhere, before. .. Ok. If you overpower it enough, and manage to make a single UP quark. A nice blue one. You will have given it enough energy to conjure up the needed UP and DOWN quark in suitable shades of blue and green, to form a proton. And enough leftover energy to pump out a few thousand other elemental bits of shrapnel. The energy needed to make one naked quark is way more than the total energy of a proton. $\endgroup$
    – PcMan
    Jun 17, 2021 at 6:24

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Gamma rays are photons of very large energy. Technology has advanced to the point of talking of gamma gamma colliders, so yes, the electromagnetic energy will be used to create a lot of elementary particles for study.

Photon beams can be made so energetic and so intense that when brought into collision with each other they can produce copious amounts of elementary particles.

... For example:

a GAMMA-GAMMA collider is uniquely suited for a direct measurement of the partial decay width of a Higgs boson into two gamma quanta. The decay amplitude involves loops of any charged particles whose mass is derived from the Higgs mechanism,

A measurement of the two-photon width would be a sensitive test of various models predicting higher mass particles without producing them directly in accelerators. There are several such models with two-photon couplings different from that of the Standard Model:supersymmetric models, techni-color models, and other extensions of the Standard Model

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