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"Generally, the human race avoids doing anything radical until forced into it."
- Frederik Pohl

Positron Beam  
  Vast numbers of positrons, the antimatter counterpart of the electron, are beamed around the Earth.  

First mention of antimatter (the word "antimatter" is not used) in a science fiction story, as far as I know.

I’ve shielded off every conceivable form of radiation. This is something else— particles, positrons, positive electrons, in enormous quantities. Come over here.”

He dragged Allan this time to one of the huge pendent magnets. A long vacuum tube lay parallel to the wire- coiled bar. At the farther end of the tube, inside, was a screen, with dulled surface. Attached to the nearer end was a leaden, funnel-shaped machine. Sandy thrust down a lever.

The machine whirred, but the tube remained dark. The dull screen, however, burst into a thin perpendicular line of glowing, sparkling pin points.

“The machine is a wave filter,” Dale explained. "It cuts out all wave lengths, allows only projectilelike particles to get through—my own inven¬ tion. They might be electrons, positrons, or neutrons. They’re hitting the fluorescent screen, see, and activating it into light. Now I’ll turn on the magnet.” He thrust another switch. “Look at that!”

The thin line of glittering pin points moved inexorably to the right, almost to the very edge of the screen.

“Positrons, my boy,” he snapped. “That’s what they are. Electrons would have moved to the left, toward the positive pole of the magnet, and neutrons, having no electrical charge, would have remained where they were.”

Allan shrugged. "So that proves there are positrons around. What, if anything, has that do with heavy water ?”

Sandy shook his head pityingly. “That’s what a university education does for a man. Positrons of a certain voltage will smash hydrogen atoms. Four million volts is more than sufficient. The positron slams its way into the nucleus, and, being equal and opposite in charge to the electron, they both whiff out of existence in a burst of energy. The stripped proton combines with the nearest atom that still holds its excess electron, and, behold, you have a double proton, or deuton, and heavy hydrogen is born.”

Technovelgy from The Great Thirst, by Nat Schachner.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1934
Additional resources -

The positron had only been named (and found) by Carl Anderson in 1932, after P.A.M. Dirac's 1928 prediction.

Thanks again to @MrBeamJockey for mentioning this story!

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Great Thirst
  More Ideas and Technology by Nat Schachner
  Tech news articles related to The Great Thirst
  Tech news articles related to works by Nat Schachner

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