Hollow Atoms

hollow atoms

Physicists have removed the inner electrons from neon with a high energy X-ray laser, leaving behind a hollow atom shell.
Image courtesy of Greg Stewart/SLAC (2011)

The world’s first hard x-ray free electron laser started operations with a bang. A single ~100 femtosecond x-ray pulse stripped all ten electrons from neon. Scientists were able to control the stripping mechanism and found that they could ionize (charge the particles) from the inside out, producing exotic hollow atoms.