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SLAC's LCLS is the world's most powerful X-ray laser (Photo: University of Oxford/Sam Vink...

To say things are really heating up at the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory isn't just a bad pun, it's one hell (sorry) of an understatement. An Oxford-led team used the Stanford-based facility that houses the world's most powerful X-ray laser to create and probe a 2-million-degree Celsius (or about 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit) piece of matter. The experiment allowed the scientists the closest look yet at what conditions might be like in the heart of the Sun, other stars and planets.  Read More

The cover of Moosejaw's winter catalog

Here's an unlikely recipe for successfully spicing up a winter clothes catalog – make the models lose their clothes, or to be more exact, allow your clients to see what is hiding underneath the bulky winter garments. The X-Ray augmented reality app by clothing retailer Moosejaw does exactly that. It uses your mobile device's camera and some augmented reality trickery to grant you X-ray vision, as you scan both female and male models' bodies in the catalog. All you have to do is position your device over the catalog pages.  Read More

An illustration depicting X-ray flashes being generated in the XFEL(Image: European XFEL)

In order to capture slow-motion footage in which a bullet can actually be seen traveling through the air, a camera has to film at a speed somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 frames per second. Given that as a benchmark, what would be the purpose of a camera that manages a whopping 4.5 million fps? In the case of the UK-based Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)'s new X-ray camera, it's to obtain three-dimensional images of individual molecules.  Read More

The LCLS Atomic, Molecular and Optical instrument hutch where the experiments were perform...

An international team of scientists has obtained the world’s first single-shot images of intact viruses – a technology that could ultimately lead to moving video of molecules, viruses and live microbes. The team was also able to successfully utilize a new shortcut for determining the 3D structures of proteins. Both advances were achieved using the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser – the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) – which scientists hope could revolutionize the study of life.  Read More

A nanoparticle-based process allows blood clots to show up on a new type of CT scan (Image...

Every year, millions of people come into emergency rooms complaining of chest pains, yet those pains are only sometimes due to heart attacks. Unfortunately in many of those cases, the only way to be sure of what’s going on is to admit the patient for an overnight stay, and administer time-consuming and costly tests. Now, however, a new procedure could reveal the presence and location of a blood clot within hours. It’s made possible by the injection of nanoparticles, each containing a million atoms of bismuth – a toxic heavy metal.  Read More

Thijs van Oudheusden with his 'poor man's X-FEL' (Photo: Bart van Overbeeke)

If you want to obtain moving images of high-speed molecular processes at an atomic scale, one of the best facilities in the world is the X-ray Free Electron Laser (X-FEL) at Stanford University. Should you wish to use it, however, you’ll have get on a waiting list, then bring your materials to its California home once it’s your turn. If you’re thinking of building your own, you’d better start saving now – Stanford’s laser reportedly cost several hundred million dollars to build, and the cost of a new European X-FEL has been set at one billion euro (US$1.3 billion). Researchers from the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), however, have recently announced the development of a tabletop “poor man’s X-FEL.” It performs some of the same key functions as the big laser, but costs under half a million euro (US$656,006).  Read More

An image of the nucleus of a mouse adenocarcinoma cell showing the nucleolus and the membr...

When obtaining three-dimensional images of cells using a scanning electron microscope, individual cells are scanned one section at a time and those images are then put together to form one complete 3D picture of that cell – the process often takes a long time to complete. When using a fluorescence microscope, cells must first by dyed so that they show up against their surroundings. Now, a team from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) have demonstrated a process called X-ray nanotomography, that can instantly obtain 3D images of cells in their almost natural state.  Read More

The image shows an x-ray radiograph of a resolution test target, with features as small as...

Researchers have created a tabletop device that produces synchrotron X-rays, the energy and image quality of which are as good as some of the largest, most expensive X-ray facilities on the planet. It uses a high power laser combined with a tiny jet of helium gas to produce an ultrashort high energy beam, that could be used for everything from examining molecules to checking the integrity of airplane wings.  Read More

The growth of nanoparticles from their very beginnings has been observed for the first tim...

We hear a lot about nanoparticles. The often unexpected properties of these tiny specks of matter are giving them applications in everything from synthetic antibodies to fuel cells to water filters and far beyond. Recently, for the first time ever, scientists were able to watch the particles grow from their earliest stage of development. Given that the performance of nanoparticles is based on their structure, composition, and size, being able to see how they grow could lead to the development of better growing conditions, and thus better nanotechnology.  Read More

Prof. Goren using his non-destructive XRF device

It’s rather ironic that in order to fully appreciate the value of an archeological artefact, part of that object must first be destroyed. That’s the way it has worked, at least, since the only way of determining the chemical composition of such items has been by breaking down a physical sample from them. As more and more institutions have decided to disallow sampling of their artefacts, however, it has become increasingly important to develop non-destructive methods of analysis. Recently, an archeologist from Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations developed just such a method - Professor Yuval Goren has adapted an off-the-shelf portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer to reveal the soil and clay composition of objects, simply by touching their surface.  Read More

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