X-rays with photon energies above 5-10 keV are called hard X-rays, while those with lower energy are called soft X-rays. Due to their penetrating ability hard X-rays are widely used to image the inside of objects, e.g. in medical radiography and airport security. As a result, the term X-ray is metonymically used to refer to a radiographic image produced using this method, in addition to the method itself. Since the wavelengths of hard X-rays are similar to the size of atoms they are also useful for determining crystal structures by X-ray crystallography. By contrast, soft X-rays are easily absorbed in air and the attenuation length of 600 eV X-rays in water is less than 1 micrometer.
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