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Lensless imaging of magnetic nanostructures by X-ray spectro-holography


Our knowledge of the structure of matter is largely based on X-ray diffraction studies of periodic structures and the successful transformation (inversion) of the diffraction patterns into real-space atomic maps. But the determination of non-periodic nanoscale structures by X-rays is much more difficult. Inversion of the measured diffuse X-ray intensity patterns suffers from the intrinsic loss of phase information1,2, and direct imaging methods are limited in resolution by the available X-ray optics3. Here we demonstrate a versatile technique for imaging nanostructures, based on the use of resonantly tuned soft X-rays for scattering contrast and the direct Fourier inversion of a holographically formed interference pattern. Our implementation places the sample behind a lithographically manufactured mask with a micrometre-sized sample aperture and a nanometre-sized hole that defines a reference beam. As an example, we have used the resonant X-ray magnetic circular dichroism effect to image the random magnetic domain structure in a Co/Pt multilayer film with a spatial resolution of 50 nm. Our technique, which is a form of Fourier transform holography, is transferable to a wide variety of specimens, appears scalable to diffraction-limited resolution, and is well suited for ultrafast single-shot imaging with coherent X-ray free-electron laser sources4.

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Figure 1: Scheme of the experimental set-up.
Figure 2: Hologram recorded with X-rays (right circular polarization) at a wavelength of 1.59 nm.
Figure 3: Images retrieved from the hologram.


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We thank Y. Acremann for recording the STXM image of the sample at the Advanced Light Source and E. E. Fullerton for access to his thin film deposition facility. The work of the SSRL authors is supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

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Eisebitt, S., Lüning, J., Schlotter, W. et al. Lensless imaging of magnetic nanostructures by X-ray spectro-holography. Nature 432, 885–888 (2004).

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