When will we have real X-ray specs? © Getty Images

When will we have real X-ray specs?

Fact or fiction: Are x-ray glasses possible, and how far are we away from this technology?

Asked by: Anonymous


Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated a way of adapting certain materials so that instead of blocking light, they amplify it – in other words, they become transparent. The technique relies on firing waves of atoms through specially created crystals a few millionths of a millimetre across. Light shone through the crystals becomes entangled within their unique molecular structure and rather than being absorbed, as in conventional materials, the crystals emit light. Though only previously achieved in gases, this work proves the effect can work in solids. The scientists think that one day it could be possible to help rescuers see through rubble in the aftermath of earthquakes. But I suspect X-ray specs are still a long way off. So far the effect has only been achieved on a tiny scale under tightly controlled lab conditions.


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