Another example is pair production in very strong electric fields, sometimes called vacuum decay. If, for example, a pair of atomic nuclei are merged together to very briefly form a nucleus with a charge greater than about 140, (that is, larger than about the inverse of the fine structure constant), the strength of the electric field will be such that it will be energetically favorable to create positron-electron pairs out of the vacuum or Dirac sea, with the electron attracted to the nucleus to annihilate the positive charge. This pair-creation amplitude was first calculated by Julian Schwinger in 1951.
Pair production is also the hypothesized mechanism behind the Pair instability supernova type of stellar explosions, where pair production suddenly lowers pressure inside a supergiant star, leading to a partial implosion, and then explosive thermonuclear burning. Supernova SN 2006gy is hypothesized to have been a pair production type supernova.
In 2008 the Titan laser aimed at a 1-millimeter-thick gold target was used to generate positron–electron pairs in large numbers