Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 787
  1. Gamma Ray Bending Opens New Door for Optics


    Physicists have created a lens for highly energetic light known as gamma rays. Once thought impossible, the feat may open up a new field of gamma-ray optics for medical imaging, detecting illicit nuclear material, and getting rid of nuclear waste.

    The electrons in glass lenses that refract visible light are less able to bend incoming light at ultraviolet frequencies. Physicists have made lenses for x-rays by stacking together layers of patterned material, ultimately allowing imaging at a nanoscale resolution.

    Now, a team of physicists led by Dietrich Habs at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany and Michael Jentschel at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, has found a way to bend gamma rays, too. They directed gamma rays into a crystal spectrometer, which sent half through a silicon prism and into another spectrometer to measure their final direction; the other half went straight to the spectrometer. Gamma rays with an energy above 700 kiloelectronvolts were slightly bent by the silicon prism, the team reports in a paper to be published this month in Physical Review Letters.

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