Research by an international team led by the University of Colorado, Boulder has created the first laser-like beams of X-rays from a tabletop device, opens the way to have a detailed research and advancement of branches of science including medicine, biology and nanotechnology.
Scientists have been trying to figure out how to build a cost-effective and reasonably sized X-ray laser that could provide super-high-resolution imaging, according to Henry Kapteyn, a CU-Boulder Physics Professor and Fellow at JILA, an additional institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Such a device also could be used by scientists to peer into a single cell or chemical reaction to gain a better understanding of the nanophysics.
Most of today's X-ray lasers require so much power that they rely on facilities the size of football stadiums or larger, making their use impractical.
It is necessary to avoid the need for a large electronic energy source to power an X-ray laser in this global warming and power problem era, the CU-Boulder researchers have engineered a tabletop device that uses atoms in a gas to efficiently combine more than 5,000 low-energy mid-infrared laser photons to generate each high-energy X-ray photon, said Margaret Murnane, a CU-Boulder physics professor and JILA fellow who is co-leading the research efforts.
"Because X-ray wavelengths are 1,000 times shorter than visible light and they penetrate materials, these coherent X-ray beams promise revolutionary new capabilities for understanding and controlling how the nanoworld works on its fundamental time and length scales," Murnane said. "Understanding the nanoworld is needed to design and optimize next-generation electronics, data and energy storage devices and medical diagnostics,” Murnane added further.
The study of the research will appear June 8 in the journal “Science”.
The tabletop device -- an X-ray tube in the soft X-ray region -- produces a bright, directed beam of X-rays by ensuring that all of the atoms in a multi-atmosphere pressure gas emit X-rays, according to Kapteyn.
"As an added advantage, the X-rays emerge as very short bursts of light that can capture the fastest processes in our physical world, including imaging the motions of electrons," Kapteyn remarked.
It will make benefit to society by enabling the Internet, DVD players, laser surgery and a host of other usage in nanotechnology, and medical sciences.
"However, the same revolution that happened for visible light sources that made it possible to create laser-like beams of light for widespread use instead of multidirectional light from a light bulb, is only now happening for X-rays," Kapteyn said.