Feeds

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

Boffins spew rainbow of radiation from table-top tech

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.