The findings, which defy expectations and theory, could help scientists deliberately induce the high levels of damage needed to study extreme states of matter or ward off damage in samples they're trying to image. The results were reported this week in Nature Photonics.
While the powerful X-rays of LCLS inevitably destroy the samples being studied, delaying damage – even for millionths of billionths of a second – can prove critical in producing detailed images and other data.
"Our results give a 'recipe' for maximizing the loss of electrons in a sample," said Daniel Rolles, a researcher for the Max Planck Advanced Study Group at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, Germany, who led the experiments. "For instance, researchers can use our findings if they're interested in creating a very highly charged plasma. Or, if the supercharged state isn't part of the study, they can use our findings to know what X-ray energies to avoid."
Just as a stretched guitar string can vibrate and sustain a note, a specific tuning of the laser's properties can cause atoms and molecules to resonate. The resonance excites the atoms and causes them to shake off electrons at a rate that otherwise would require higher energies.
While it is common knowledge that triggering resonances in atoms will affect their charged states, "it was not clear to anybody what a dramatic effect this could have in heavy atoms when they are being ionized by a source like LCLS," Rolles said. "It was the highest charge state ever observed with a single X-ray pulse, which shows that the existing theoretical approaches have to be modified."
The team had previously used a laser facility in Germany to expose various atoms and molecules to pulses of ultraviolet light, and was eager to use the higher-energy LCLS for further studies.
"The LCLS experiment pushed the charged state to an unprecedented and unexpected extreme – more than doubling the expected energy absorbed per atom and ejecting dozens of electrons," said Benedikt Rudek from the Max Planck Advanced Study Group, who analyzed the data.
In addition to creating or avoiding supercharged plasma states in experiments, Rolles said the "dramatic change" caused by resonance in the absorption of X-ray energy could someday be exploited to improve the resolution of images captured in LCLS experiments.
"Most biological samples have some heavy atoms embedded, for instance," Rolles said, and in some experiments, avoiding the resonance trigger might prevent rapid damage to those atoms.
The researchers have since done similar LCLS experiments involving the heavy element krypton and molecular systems that contain other heavy atoms, said Artem Rudenko of Kansas State University, who led a recent follow-up experiment.
The team's precise measurements were made possible by a sophisticated experimental station built by the Max Planck Advanced Study Group in Germany. In total, the equipment weighed about 11 tons and was shipped to SLAC in 40 crates. It stayed at LCLS for three years and was used in more than 20 experiments ranging from atomic and molecular physics to material sciences and bio-imaging.
"Reassembling this machine at LCLS within one month and then commissioning it and doing a science experiment in only seven days was an absolutely incredible feat," said Rolles.
The research team included scientists from 19 research centers, including: Max Planck Advanced Study Group and several Max Planck institutes, PNSensor GmbH, Technical University of Berlin, Jülich Research Center, University of Hamburg and Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Germany; SLAC and Western Michigan and Kansas State universities in the U.S.; University of Pierre and Marie Curie and National Center for Scientific Research in France; and Kyoto and Tohoku universities in Japan.
LCLS is supported by DOE's Office of Science.
SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. To learn more, please visit www.slac.stanford.edu.
DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.
Andy Freeberg | Source: EurekAlert!
Further information: www.slac.stanford.edu
Further Reports about: Advanced Investigator Grant > Bio-Imaging > material science > material sciences > Max Planck Institute > molecular system > SLAC > supercharging atoms > x-ray laser > X-ray microscopy
More articles from Process Engineering:
A New Type of Laser
21.05.2013 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Microelectronics: Taking the heat off microfluidic chips
25.04.2013 | The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
This morning at 05:45 CEST, the earth trembled beneath the Okhotsk Sea in the Pacific Northwest. The quake, with a magnitude of 8.2, took place at an exceptional depth of 605 kilometers.
Because of the great depth of the earthquake a tsunami is not expected and there should also be no major damage due to shaking.
Professor Frederik Tilmann of the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences: "The epicenter is exceptionally deep, far below the earth's crust in the mantle. Such strong ...
The Ring Nebula's distinctive shape makes it a popular illustration for astronomy books. But new observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the glowing gas shroud around an old, dying, sun-like star reveal a new twist.
"The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it's like a jelly doughnut, because it's filled with material in the middle," said C. Robert O'Dell of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
He leads a research team that used Hubble and several ground-based telescopes to obtain the best view yet of ...
New indicator molecules visualise the activation of auto-aggressive T cells in the body as never before
Biological processes are generally based on events at the molecular and cellular level. To understand what happens in the course of infections, diseases or normal bodily functions, scientists would need to examine individual cells and their activity directly in the tissue.
The development of new microscopes and fluorescent dyes in ...
A fried breakfast food popular in Spain provided the inspiration for the development of doughnut-shaped droplets that may provide scientists with a new approach for studying fundamental issues in physics, mathematics and materials.
The doughnut-shaped droplets, a shape known as toroidal, are formed from two dissimilar liquids using a simple rotating stage and an injection needle. About a millimeter in overall size, the droplets are produced individually, their shapes maintained by a surrounding springy material made of polymers.
Droplets in this toroidal shape made ...
Frauhofer FEP will present a novel roll-to-roll manufacturing process for high-barriers and functional films for flexible displays at the SID DisplayWeek 2013 in Vancouver – the International showcase for the Display Industry.
Displays that are flexible and paper thin at the same time?! What might still seem like science fiction will be a major topic at the SID Display Week 2013 that currently takes place in Vancouver in Canada.
High manufacturing cost and a short lifetime are still a major obstacle on ...
24.05.2013 | Life Sciences
24.05.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
24.05.2013 | Physics and Astronomy
17.05.2013 | Event News
15.05.2013 | Event News
08.05.2013 | Event News