Volume 2 Issue 2, February 2006

Volume 2 Issue 2

Recently developed high-intensity, coherent X-ray sources — such as highharmonic-generation lasers and X-ray free-electron lasers — offer great potential for studying matter at the atomic scale. But to take full advantage of this opportunity, significant improvements will be needed in the optics used to manipulate the radiation from these sources. To this end, Keith Nugent and colleagues report a technique for imaging the optical field at the focus of an Xray lens that does not require the use of secondary X-ray optics. This technique could not only reduce uncertainties in the characterization and development of X-ray optics, but, in certain contexts, it could also eliminate the need for lenses altogether.

Letter by Quiney et al. | News and views by Jacobsen



Books and Arts

Research Highlights

News and Views

  • News & Views |

    Certain aspects of two-dimensional turbulence are remarkably similar to those found in critical percolation, and show conformal invariance. But there is both less, and more, to this observation than meets the eye.

    • John Cardy
  • News & Views |

    The tracking of the circulation of dollar bills around the United States, to map human travel patterns, has at last uncovered a physical example of a particular style of random walk.

    • Michael F. Shlesinger
  • News & Views |

    With continuing improvements in X-ray optics, conventional techniques for measuring their performance are finding it hard to keep up. Iterative phase-retrieval algorithms for reconstructing an optical field at the focus of an optical element could not only solve this problem, but remove the need for such optics altogether.

    • Chris Jacobsen
  • News & Views |

    In the early 1900s, the Solvay conferences famously brought together the early protagonists of quantum theory. At the latest meeting in the series, the issue was now the quantum structure of space–time itself.

    • Michael Green
  • News & Views |

    Statistical physics can reveal the fabric of complex networks, for example, potential oligarchies formed by its best-connected members. But care has to be taken to avoid jumping to conclusions.

    • Luis A. Nunes Amaral
    •  & Roger Guimera
  • News & Views |

    Rare gases provide unique opportunities to examine patients and materials with magnetic resonance imaging. A new entry, krypton, offers interesting properties that could move the field forward.

    • Daniel Raftery
  • News & Views |

    The coalescence of neutron stars in compact binaries could produce the intense, short flashes of high-energy radiation observed in gamma-ray bursts. Models suggest that dynamical evolution in old dense stellar clusters, rather than galaxies, may form many of these rare systems.

    • Steinn Sigurdsson