Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have moved a step closer to building a compact, tabletop x-ray microscope that could be used for biological imaging at super-high resolution.
They have fired a femtosecond laser - a laser that generates light pulses with durations as short as 100 trillionth of a second - through a gas-filled tube called a waveguide to create efficient "laser-like" beams in regions of the spectrum that were previously inaccessible.
This "soft" x-ray light is generated in a wavelength region called the "water-window", which is an important region for biological imaging. The water window is an area where water is less absorbing than carbon, so carbon absorbs more light and makes it easier to take images. Current technology requires large-scale and expensive equipment.
It is hoped that this work will result in a compact microscope for desktop biological imaging to show processes happening within living cells.