Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.

If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Analytical Chemistry

Atomic X-ray Laser Blasts Ahead

World’s most powerful X-ray laser outdoes itself with a more coherent beam to probe nanoscale materials

by Elizabeth K. Wilson
January 30, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 5

A femtosecond-pulsed, atomic X-ray laser—beaming at the highest energies reached so far by its kind—could enable new developments in high-resolution spectroscopy, according to a report in Nature (DOI: 10.1038/nature10721). X-ray lasers have been in use since the 1980s, but scientists are forever in search of higher energy, shorter-pulsed, and more coherent beams to probe the atomic-scale distances and motions of molecules. Nina Rohringer of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science, in Germany, and colleagues used SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’sLinac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), which is a free-electron laser, to pump collections of neon atoms into high-energy states and achieve laser radiation of 849 eV. Although this energy is actually less than the 960 eV produced by LCLS, which is currently the world’s most powerful X-ray laser, the light produced by an atomic laser has advantages over that of a free-electron laser. For example, the Rohringer group’s laser produces light that is far more coherent, with photon energy spreads of less than 1 eV, whereas LCLS’s spread averages 15 eV.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Leave A Comment

*Required to comment