Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brightest light waves ever created are useful for medical imaging

With gamma ray radiation, which is electromagnetic radiation of a very short wavelength, scientists created a beam a thousand billion times brighter than the sun. With this, they hope to improve imaging techniques in medicine. In order to create this incredible intense beam, researchers at the university of Strathclyde fired laser pulses at ionized gas, causing a release of electromagnetic energy that the world has not yet seen before. The resulting gamma ray beam should be able to visualize structures that with other imaging techniques were too faint to see properly. In addition, the beams could be landing a job as cancer treatment in a new form of radiotherapy. Also worth noting is that the novel method of creating gamma rays is cheaper than conventional methods.

A gamma ray is a form of electromagnetic radiation that is invisble to the human eye. Though visible light is also an electromagnetic wave, the wavelengths of a gamma ray are too short for us to see because it falls outside the visual spectrum. It is comparable to X-rays, also a form of short wavelength radiation.

By firing a laser at ionized gas, lasting only a quadrillionth of a second, electrons trapped in the cloud pick up energy and start to oscillate. Apparantly, the ionized gas cloud makes it possible for electrons to reach energy levels that they otherwise would not reach. In the end, this results in expelling photons from the gas cloud at an unprecedented rate, creating gamma rays a thousand billion times brighter than the sun. Of course, these beams last only for a very short time, for else it would pretty much destroy everything, I reckon.

No comments:

Post a Comment