Physicists Succeed in Making Gamma-Ray Lens

gammaraylensPhysicists at Maximilian University of Munich in Germany and Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France have created a lens for highly energetic light known as gamma rays, and they believe it will open up a new field of gamma-ray optics for medical imaging, detecting illicit nuclear material, and getting rid of nuclear waste.

ILL is a research reactor that produces intense beams of neutrons. The physicists used one of its beams to bombard samples of radioactive chlorine and gadolinium to produce gamma rays. They directed these down a 20-meter-long tube to a device known as a crystal spectrometer, which funneled the gamma rays into a specific direction. They then passed half of the gamma rays through a silicon prism and into another spectrometer to measure their final direction, while they directed the other half straight to the spectrometer unimpeded. To the researchers’ surprise, gamma rays with an energy above 700 kiloelectronvolts are slightly bent by the silicon prism.

Learn more from Wired.

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