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Storage of X-ray photons in a crystal resonator


The temporal structure and high brilliance of the X-ray beams produced by third-generation synchrotrons open up new possibilities in time-dependent diffraction and spectroscopy, where timescales down to the sub-nanosecond regime can now be accessed. These beam properties are such that one can envisage the development of the X-ray equivalent of optical components, such as photon delay lines and resonators, that have proved indispensable in a wide range of experiments—for example, pump-probe and multiple-interaction experiments—and (through shaping the temporal structure and repetition rate of the beams) time-dependent measurements in crystallography, physics, biology and chemistry1,2,3. Optical resonators, such as those used in lasers, are available at wavelengths from the visible to soft X-rays4,5. Equivalent components for hard X-rays have been discussed for more than thirty years4,6,7, but have yet to be realized. Here we report the storage of hard X-ray photons (energy 15.817 keV) in a crystal resonator formed by two plates of crystalline silicon. The photons are stored for as many as 14 back-and-forth cycles within the resonator, each cycle separated by one nanosecond.

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Figure 1: Sketch of the resonator with the two active slices sticking out of the monolithic device.
Figure 2: Calculated reflection and transmission curves R and T of a resonator 2 × 292 µm in thickness as a function of relative energy deviation ΔE/E from the centre of the Bragg reflection.
Figure 3: Time pattern of stored photons at the exit of the resonator.
Figure 4


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We thank the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility crystal laboratory for the preparation of the resonator.

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Correspondence to K.-D. Liss.

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Liss, KD., Hock, R., Gomm, M. et al. Storage of X-ray photons in a crystal resonator. Nature 404, 371–373 (2000).

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