Monday, May 19, 2008

X-ray and gamma-ray laser guns - coming soon.

A US researcher has discovered a way to generate X-ray and gamma-ray laser light without needing large energy input to begin with.

Since Einstein theorized laser light in 1917, it has been a given that it is impossible to generate laser light in the X-ray or gamma-ray range of the electromagnetic spectrum, due to the enormous energy required to to excite atoms to such high states.

"We do not have good sources of X-ray and gamma rays," said Kishor Kapale, an assistant professor of physics at Western Illinois University. Kapale's research, "Lasing Without Inversion: Counterintuitive Population Dynamics in the Transient Regime," published in the prestigious Physical Review Letters.

Kapale's study, however, demonstrates a novel method to manipulate the atoms in the sample so that even a small number of naturally existing high-energy atoms can cause laser light generation via lasing. In the process, an initially more populated ground (lowest energy) state becomes more populated with time. "This will allow the generation of X-ray and gamma-ray laser light without needing large energy input to begin with. " Kapale said.

What does one do with all those cheap xrays and gamma rays? Space opera afficionados will instantly see the possibility of a ray-projecting phaser-style sidearm, tuneable from nearly imperceptible discomfort to blasting-down-Godzilla strength, while more pacific futurists may visualize precise control of the behavior of quantum systems leading to progress in the important upcoming area of information processing known as quantum information (ansible and teleporter fans take note). Image source Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

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