Scientists at the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility have produced a rare colour of laser light 100 times brighter than any other source, for the first time.
It is called vacuum ultraviolet and is in the form of 10 eV photons.
"Using a hole out-coupling mirror on the Jefferson Lab Ultraviolet Demonstration FEL, we delivered vacuum ultraviolet harmonic light to a calibrated VUV photodiode and measured five nanojoules of fully coherent light in each micropulse,” said George Neil, Jefferson Lab associate director for the FEL Division.
The find could outdo radiocarbon dating as a method of determining the age of materials. The 10 eV light could allow scientists to determine the age of materials between 100,000 to 1 million years, as compared to radiocarbon, which allows dating up to roughly 62,000 years.
It could contribute to ocean circulation models and maps of groundwater movement, as well as dating polar ice.
"This new laser is also a perfect tool to study novel materials with great potential for addressing issues such as energy and the environment," said Gwyn Williams, FEL basic research program manager.
"We still have a lot of work ahead of us before experiments can begin. In the new year, we''ll be working to deliver light into a lab for measurement and future experiments. We hope to accomplish those goals by March."