Laser with record short wavelengths developed in Japan

14 September 2015
By Tereza Pultarova
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Japanese researchers have created a laser with record short wavelength

Japanese researchers have created a laser with record short wavelength

Japanese researchers have developed an atomic laser capable of operating at the shortest wavelengths to date, paving the way for improvements in imaging of microscopic objects.

The atomic X-ray laser built by a team from the University of Electro-Communications in Toyko, produces a stable beam of light with a wavelength of 0.15 nanometers, which is almost ten times shorter than what was previously achieved.

The record-breaking laser uses copper atoms to create a stream of photons when the copper foil is exposed to X-ray pulses of different energies. In this case, the researchers used one X-ray pulse as a pump source and the other as a seed of the laser beam.

This approach greatly enhanced the coherence and energy extraction efficiency of the short-wavelength beam.

The researchers hope that with further improvements, the technology could eventually produce ultra-stable, high quality X-ray images, and have a transformative effect on many application fields including medicine, quantum optics and particle physics.

Researchers have been trying to create lasers capable of generating a coherent stream of X-ray radiation for some time hoping for improvements in imaging of molecule-sized objects.

However, the wavelengths that are currently possible to achieve – lying between the UV and X-ray spectrum – still don’t provide enough detail. The laser beam frequently bypasses smaller molecules without bouncing off them, producing less detailed images as a result.

The laser developed by the team led by Hitoki Yoneda is the so called hard X-ray inner-shell atomic laser – a technology originally developed by Yoneda’s team.

Originally, the researchers only used one laser pulse bombarding the copper foil with a stream of electrons, but this approach was less efficient.

 

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