Scientists led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed and simulated a new energy-efficient way to generate highly focused and finely controlled X-rays that are up to a thousand times more intense than those from traditional methods. The findings are published in the journal Light: Science & Applications.

This paves the way for ultra high-quality X-ray imaging that uses powerful X-rays for detecting flaws in semi-conductor chips accurately. The new method could also allow more focused X-ray imaging to be done for health screening while using less energy.

The novel method is based on  that shoot electrons at an ultra-thin material with highly ordered structures, such as graphene. The basic mechanism is similar to how X-rays are conventionally produced using X-ray tubes. But there is a twist: In the simulations, the wave-like patterns of how the electrons travel are “shaped” in a very specific way so that the particles’ traveling path matches and overlaps with the highly structured positions of the material’s atoms.

Since the X-rays produced could be controlled to be either diffused or focused, the new method could offer more flexibility in performing X-ray imaging for health screening, such as imaging an entire hand or just a finger joint, while using less energy to produce the radiation. Focused and intense X-rays might also have uses in more targeted radiotherapy to treat cancer.

Keep reading at

The international team of scientists who conducted this research include researchers from the Technion.