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Catching electrons in motion


Narrator:        This is Science Today. At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, scientists are using the Lab's Advanced Light Source to produce ultrafast and ultrabright beams of light called soft x-rays, which can catch electrons in motion.

Larabell:        The Advanced Light Source is a synchrotron, which is basically an instrument where you inject electrons into an accelerator, accelerate them close to the speed of light and then they go around in a circle at almost the speed of light.

Narrator:        Carolyn Larabell directs the Lab's National Center for X-ray Tomography and has been working with soft x-rays to get three-dimensional images of the structure of the cells. This gives researchers better insight into how the human body works, leading to cures for many diseases.

Larabell:        The actual principles of x-ray microscopy, imaging with soft x-rays, started being developed in the Seventies. What actually allowed it to become more commonly used is the development of synchrotrons to give you a bright enough light source, as well as the development of the optics to focus the x-rays, so the development of nanofabrication devices made it possible to make the very fine, high-resolution optics.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.