Dr. Evil will really like this new development by team of scientists at the Menlo Park SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The team has created the world's first atomic x-ray laser. The project resulted in the shortest, purest x-ray laser pulses ever achieved. These x-ray laser pulses were created when the researchers aimed the SLAC Linac Coherent Light Source at a capsule filled with neon gas.
When laser light struck that capsule of gas, x-ray emissions were created. The experiment was led by physicist Nina Rohringer, who works for the Max Planck Society in Germany. Using the short x-ray pulses, the team could capture the fast changes in matter. The laser is important because the faster the pulses and the purer the light created by the laser, the more details the scientist can see in the matter being studied.
According to the researchers, the superfast pulses in the laser allow the first pulse to trigger a change in the sample being studied, and the second pulse can record on the atomic scale any changes that occurred in the matter. The team of researchers plans to tweak the laser even further by studying other gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur in an attempt to create even higher energy and shorter pulses for the x-ray laser.
"X-rays give us a penetrating view into the world of atoms and molecules," said physicist Nina Rohringer of Germany's Max Planck Society in a news release last week.
"We envision researchers using this new type of laser for all sorts of interesting things, such as teasing out the details of chemical reactions or watching biological molecules at work," she said.