Team finds new way to use X-rays to probe properties of solid materials: 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.
Now, Alexander F�hlisch from the HZB and his team were able to observe through a series of experiments at Hamburg's short-pulse X-ray laser FLASH that these types of effects can also be achieved using soft X-rays and that this method works on solids as well. "Normally, inelastic scattering processes using soft X-rays are ineffective," explains Martin Beye, the study's primary author: "Our experiment allowed us to document how inelastic X-ray scattering can be intelligently intensified. Just like a laser, the different photons are actually working together and amplifying each other and we end up with a very high measurement signal."