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High-brightness table-top hard X-ray source driven by sub-100-femtosecond mid-infrared pulses


Ultrafast structural dynamics in the condensed phase represents a key topic of current physics, chemistry and materials science. Femtosecond hard X-ray pulses are important structure probes that have been applied in time-resolved X-ray absorption and diffraction1,2,3,4. Optical pump/X-ray probe schemes with compact laser-driven table-top sources5,6,7,8,9,10,11 have allowed for tiny changes of diffracted intensity to be measured with X-ray photon statistics, which has set the ultimate sensitivity limit12,13,14. To address the strong quest for a higher X-ray flux, here we present the first hard X-ray plasma source driven by intense mid-infrared sub-100-fs pulses at 3.9 μm. The comparably long optical period allows for accelerating electrons from the Cu target to very high kinetic energies and for generating a characteristic Kα flux of 109 photons per pulse, 25 times more than with our 800 nm driver9,10. Theoretical simulations account for the experimental results in a wide range of driving fields and predict a further enhancement of X-ray flux.

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Figure 1: Light-induced hard X-ray generation: experimental geometry and results.
Figure 2: Generated X-ray Kα flux as a function of the laser-peak intensity.
Figure 3: Theoretical calculations of electron energy.


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The Max-Born-Institut's group acknowledges financial support from the European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2012)/ERC Grant Agreement 247051 and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Grant WO 558/13-1). The Photonics Institute acknowledges the Austrian SFB 49 Next Lite and Project I557, both funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).

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M.W., T.E. and A.B. designed the experiment. J.W., V.J., M.H., S.K., S.A. and A.P. performed the experiments. J.W., V.J., M.H. and S.K. carried out the data analysis. J.W. and M.W. devised the theoretical framework and performed the simulations. V.J., M.W. and T.E. wrote the manuscript, to which all authors suggested improvement.

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Correspondence to Vincent Juvé, Michael Woerner or Andrius Baltuška.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Weisshaupt, J., Juvé, V., Holtz, M. et al. High-brightness table-top hard X-ray source driven by sub-100-femtosecond mid-infrared pulses. Nature Photon 8, 927–930 (2014).

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