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Under extremely intense illumination materials may exhibit so-called nonlinear optical properties such as ceasing to absorb light beyond a certain brightness, or becoming highly ionized. Yasumasa Hikosaka, Mitsuru Nagasono and colleagues at RIKEN and several other Japanese research institutes have now described the details of this ionization process by using very short bursts of bright laser light. Their finding is relevant to a broad range of pure and applied research, including x-ray imaging of biological molecules, ultrafast optical switches, fusion and astrophysics.

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Category: Science