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A Viable Substitute for the X-Ray Laser?

Photonics Spectra
Mar 2007
Practical x-ray lasers would provide a revolutionary advance in medical imaging and advanced lithography, but several fundamental roadblocks have prevented their development.

Now scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder have demonstrated that phase-matched high-order harmonic generation can produce coherent extreme-UV radiation, and they predict that the technique will be extended to produce a laserlike beam of coherent x-ray radiation from a tabletop device.

Generation of high-order harmonics in an ionized gas is not new, but what is new is the ability to phasematch the process. By using counter-propagating pulses to modulate the main pulse of fundamental radiation in the ionized gas, the scientists successfully demonstrated a variation of the quasi-phase-matching technique that has become common in crystals.

As described in the Feb. 25 online edition of Nature Physics, they have seen phase-matching enhancement factors of ∼300, generating fluxes of 1010 photons per second at 70 eV (15 nm). In future experiments, they hope to extend their demonstration to photon energies well into the soft x-ray region.


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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