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Jun 9, 2012 11:00 AM by Sari Zeidler,CNN

Laser beam may one day replace X-rays

Researchers at the University of Colorado have made a breakthrough that may one day help doctors detect disease earlier and with more accuracy.

Based on the hypothosesis of Dr. Tenio Popmintchev, researchers have created a laser beam by adding 5,000 photons together. Previously, two photons were typically used to create laser beams. This is the first time so many photons have been successfully added together.

The result is a more efficient and easier to set up X-ray, according to Dr. Margaret Murnane.

"If we can push this further, and we don't know how far into the X-ray region we can push this technology, there's a chance we can change your doctor or dentist's X-ray device to a laser version." Murnane said.

"The image would be much crisper. It could really get high resolution X-rays so you could detect disease much earlier."

But that is still a while away - possibly around 10 or 20 years guessed Murnane.

In the meantime, the breakthrough sheds light on how heat flows in very small devices, which may allow scientists develop more energy efficient data storage devices, better understanding of solar energy harvesting and better nano electronics, "so your laptop doesn't heat up so fast," Murnane said.

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