Feeds

Red faces abound as boffins build gamma ray lens

Focusing on targets near and far

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Scientists have disproved a chunk of theoretical physics by building a series of lenses capable of focusing gamma rays.

A team at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) research center used twin silicon wafers to bend a stream of gamma rays, something that had been thought to be impossible. The team posits, in an article in the Physical Review Letters, that by building more advanced silicon lenses, using gold and other highly refractive substances, gamma rays could be focused for the first time in a way similar to standard optics.

gamma lens

The ultimate specs

"20 years ago many people doubted you could do optics with x-rays – no one even considered that it might be possible for gamma-rays too," said Dr Bruce Banner Michael Jentschel, research scientist at ILL, in a statement.

"This is a remarkable and completely unexpected discovery with significant scientific implications and practical applications. These include isotope specific microscopy with benefits across the scientific disciplines, through to direct medical treatment and even tools to address major national security issues."

ILL is pushing for the homeland security buck by using gamma rays as a scanning technique, but it has many more important uses. Gamma ray focusing could open up new avenues for imaging within the body and using its outputs to destroy life-threatening illnesses.

The European Space Agency is also very keen to get gamma ray lenses up into orbit, where they can be used to focus on emissions from some of the most violent phenomena in the universe – supernovas. ESA researchers estimate that a one million second point source observation at 511 keV using a gamma lens would be 100 times as effective as current research techniques. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.