In a decidedly bond-villain esque move, researchers have used a thin sliver of diamond to create one of the most powerful and refined X-ray lasers to date. Described as the X-ray imaging equivalent of a surgeon “trading a hatchet for a scalpel”, the diamond upgrade is a major addition to the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at Stanford University. In a process called self-seeding, diamond filters the LCLS laser into a single X-ray frequency, giving researchers more control at the atomic level. “The more control you have, the finer the details you can see,” said Jerry Hastings, a SLAC scientist. “People have been talking about self-seeding for nearly 15 years. The method we incorporated at SLAC was proposed in 2010. When our team built it, we were surprised by how simple, robust and cost-effective the engineering turned out to be.” I’m sure 007 would agree: while not as exciting as a space laser, this is a much better use for diamonds.