X-ray machine opens new frontier   -  Feb 18, 2015 Click here for More News

Researchers in Palo Alto in the US state of California have developed the most powerful X-ray laser in the world. The Linac Coherent Light Source is being used to see how atoms and molecules move in living systems. The machine is a billion times brighter than the previous generation of lasers. Each X-ray pulse has as much power as the national grid of a large country, and a hundred are produced every second. Prof Mike Dunne, who runs the Palo Alto facility, showed me around. He said the LCLS fired extremely fast bursts of X-rays. "Think about a person running the hundred metres," he told me. "The difference between first place and second place is sometimes 1/100th of a second. “Take that 1/100th of a second and divide it a million times. Then take one of those divisions and divide it another million times. And that's how fast this burst of X-rays is." Rendition of imaging process The LCLS takes stop-motion pictures of atoms and molecules in motion The laser was developed at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Its systems were adapted from a particle collider. But instead of smashing atoms, it enables researchers to see what is going on in living systems and to track chemical reactions as they happen.