Schlachter, Alfred S. Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley Hills, California.
Last reviewed:March 2019
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- History of discovery and characterization
- Quantum mechanics
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A form of light more energetic than ultraviolet and less energetic than gamma rays, with wavelengths ranging from 0.01 to 10 nanometers. X-rays represent one of the main spectral regions classically identified on the electromagnetic spectrum which, ordered in terms of shortening wavelength and thus increasing energy, are: radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, x-rays, and gamma rays (Fig. 1). The wavelength range for x-rays, approximately 0.01 to 10 nanometers (nm), corresponds to frequencies running from 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz. Like all light, x-rays are photons—the quanta of the electromagnetic field and the force carriers for electromagnetism, one of the four fundamental interactions of nature. See also: Electromagnetic radiation; Electromagnetic field; Electromagnetism; Fundamental interactions; Gamma rays; Infrared radiation; Light; Photon; Quantum mechanics; Standard model; Ultraviolet radiation; Wavelength; Wavelength measurement
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