X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) provide femtosecond X-ray pulses with a narrow energy bandwidth and unprecedented brightness. Ultrafast physical and chemical dynamics, initiated with a site-specific X-ray pulse, can be explored using XFELs with a second ultrashort X-ray probe pulse. However, existing double-pulse schemes are complicated, difficult to customize or provide only low-intensity pulses. Here we present the novel fresh-slice technique for multicolour pulse production, wherein different temporal slices of an electron bunch lase to saturation in separate undulator sections. This method combines electron bunch tailoring from a passive wakefield device with trajectory control to provide multicolour pulses. The fresh-slice scheme outperforms existing techniques at soft X-ray wavelengths. It produces femtosecond pulses with a power of tens of gigawatts and flexible colour separation. The pulse delay can be varied from temporal overlap to almost one picosecond. We also demonstrate the first three-colour XFEL and variably polarized two-colour pulses.
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We thank K. Bane and R. Iverson for useful discussions and support. This work was supported by Department of Energy contract nos DE-AC02-76SF00515 and DE-SC0012376.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Lutman, A., Maxwell, T., MacArthur, J. et al. Fresh-slice multicolour X-ray free-electron lasers. Nature Photon 10, 745–750 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/nphoton.2016.201
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