Feeds

Pint-size gizmo shoots X-RAY LASER for first time

Boffins spew rainbow of radiation from table-top tech

Security for virtualized datacentres

It was thought that it would take an atomic bomb to produce enough power to generate an X-ray laser, but a team of boffins have fired one from a table-top box of tricks.

X-ray lasers need astonishing amounts of power and huge equipment to create extremely short-lived yet coherent beams with a wavelength in the tens of nanometers - dozens of times shorter than that of visible light. But now a cross-continental team has produced a smaller cost-effective alternative and published the test results in the Science journal today.

The scientists made the breakthrough using a phenomenon called high-harmonic generation: atoms are shot by a specific laser pulse that causes their electrons to tear away and then return to collide with the atoms and emit energy right across the electromagnetic spectrum.

The researchers were able to focus intense pulses of infrared into a high-pressure noble gas chamber to kickstart this process and produce a rainbow of radiation that - for the first time ever - included a stable X-ray beam.

Applications of these stupidly high-resolution femtosecond lasers include the study of biological cell structures and chemical reactions.

Deborah Jackson of America's Engineering Research Center, which is funding the project, said: "Thirty years ago, people were saying we could make a coherent X-ray source, but it would have to be an X-ray laser, and we'd need an atomic bomb as the energy source to pump it.

"Now, we have these guys who understand the science fundamentals well enough to introduce new tricks for efficiently extracting energetic photons, pulling them out at X-ray wavelengths - and it's all done on a table-top." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.