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Team finds new way to use X-rays to probe properties of solid materials

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Posted August 22, 2013
Berlin researchers open a door for solid state physics

Researchers have documented how inelastic scattering can intelligently intensify so that a shift of frequency is observed. Credit: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin/E. Strickert

Without the currently available plethora of X-ray methods, basic research in the physical sciences would be unthinkable. The methods are used in solid state physics, in the analysis of biological structures, and even art historians have X-rays to thank for many new insights. Now, scientists at the Helmholtz Center Berlin (HZB) have identified yet another area of application.

The team around Dr. Martin Beye and Prof. Alexander Föhlisch was able to show that solids lend themselves to X-ray analysis based on nonlinear physical effects. Until now, this could only be done using laser analysis. The work is being published in the e-pub-ahead-of-print-issue of the journal Nature. Their results could potentially redefine what future lightsources ought to look like.

Nonlinear effects form the basis of laser physics. Until now, they did not appear to be useful in X-ray analysis. The physics that underlie X-ray methods were based solely on linear effects, meaning whenever the radiation encounters the object that is being examined, each light particle – each photon – is working in isolation.

With lasers, it’s a different story. The energy and power density of incoming laser light can get so high that photons actually work together and nonlinear effects result from their interaction with matter. This results in materials greatly enhancing certain colors of light. In other words, if you irradiate a crystal with green light, the light that gets irradiated is actually red. This color can be precisely correlated with the structural properties of the material that is being analyzed.

 

Read more at: Phys.org

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