Optics Highlight 2014
by Jens Biegert
Each year, the December issue of Optics and Photonics News highlights the most exciting optics research to emerge in the preceding 12 months. A panel of editors reviewed a record 200 research summaries from scientists all over the globe. They selected for publication 30 reports that they felt most clearly communicated breakthroughs of interest to the optics community.
Seth Cousin, Francisco Silva, Stephan Teichmann, Dr Michael Hemmer and Prof Jens Biegert, leader of the Attoscience and ultrafast optics group, appear with ‘Molecular Fine Structure from Water Window X-rays’ in which they demonstrate the first high-flux table top attosecond source reaching the soft-X-ray water window, corresponding to wavelengths between 2.3 and 4.5 nm. Covering the water window, with contains the fundamental absorption edges of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, now enables element-specific, high-resolution biological and molecular imaging, spectroscopy, materials science and observation of fundamental dynamics of matter at unprecedented timescales. The authors demonstrate their approach by retrieving the electronic structure of a solid state polyimide target with near-edge X-ray fine-structure absorption spectroscopy (NEXAFS).