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Scientists come up with new X-ray device

University of Nebraska

The new X-ray device could be small enough to fit in a hospital or on a truck

University of NebraskaWashington: Scientists have developed a novel method to generate research-quality X-rays using a powerful ‘tabletop’ laser by using a compact but powerful laser.

A research team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln created a new way to generate synchrotron X-rays. Researchers say that the device could lead to advanced applications in many fields that include high definition security scanning, earlier tumor identification, or the study of extremely fast reactions that occur too rapidly for observation with conventional X-rays.

Although the high quality of synchrotron X-rays make them ideal for research ranging from the structure of matter to advanced medical images, access to the technology has been limited until now.

One would drop the jaw reading that most traditional synchrotron X-ray devices are gigantic and costly and available only at a few sites around the world.

“Our hope is that this new technology will lead to applications that benefit both science and society,” Nathan Powers, first author of the journal article.

Physics professor Donald Umstadter, director of the Extreme Light Laboratory, who led the research project, compared the synchrotron X-ray breakthrough to the development of personal computers giving more people access to computing power once available only via large and costly mainframe computers.

Shrinking components of advanced laser-based technology will increase the feasibility of producing high-quality X-rays in medical and university research laboratories, which in turn could lead to new applications for the X-rays.

Scientists said that the new X-ray device could be small enough to fit in a hospital or on a truck and could lead to more widespread applications for advanced X-ray technology.

New applications might include detecting nuclear materials concealed within a shielded container; doctors finding cancerous tumors at earlier stages; or scientists studying extremely fast reactions that occur too rapidly for observation with conventional X-rays.

The study was published in the journal Nature Photonics.

PTI

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