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Polarization control in an X-ray free-electron laser


X-ray free-electron lasers are unique sources of high-brightness coherent radiation. However, existing devices supply only linearly polarized light, precluding studies of chiral dynamics. A device called the Delta undulator has been installed at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) to provide tunable polarization. With a reverse tapered planar undulator line to pre-microbunch the beam and the novel technique of beam diverting, hundreds of microjoules of circularly polarized X-ray pulses are produced at 500–1,200 eV. These X-ray pulses are tens of femtoseconds long, have a degree of circular polarization of 0.98–0.04+0.02 at 707 eV and may be scanned in energy. We also present a new two-colour X-ray pump–X-ray probe operating mode for the LCLS. Energy differences of ΔE/E = 2.4% are supported, and the second pulse can be adjusted to any elliptical polarization. In this mode, the pointing, timing, intensity and wavelength of the two pulses can be modified.

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Figure 1: Reverse taper and beam diverting.
Figure 2: X-ray profiles in the diverted-beam scheme.
Figure 3: Circular polarization performance at 707 eV.
Figure 4: Two-colour, two-polarization scheme.
Figure 5: Two-colour, two-polarization experimental demonstration.


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The authors thank C.P. O'Grady for the online data-handling system. This work was supported by Department of Energy contract no. DE-AC02-76SF00515. A.O.L. acknowledges funding from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation through the Max IV synchrotron radiation facility programme. K.H. thanks the AvH Foundation for financial support through the Feodor-Lynen programme. M.I. acknowledges funding from the Volkswagen Foundation within a Peter Paul Ewald-Fellowship.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.A.L., J.P.M., M.I., A.O.L., Z.H. and H.-D.N. co-wrote the manuscript. A.A.L. conceived the beam-diverting and two-colour, two-polarization schemes. J.P.M., A.Ma., Y.D. and Z.H. provided modelling and theoretical support for the reverse taper and beam-diverting techniques. A.A.L., J.P.M., Y.D., A.Ma., T.M., F.P., Z.R.W., Z.H. and H.-D.N. configured the LCLS and the Delta for photon beam generation during the experiments. M.I., A.O.L., J.B., R.N.C., L.D., L.G., J.G., G.H., N.H., S.M., A.Mi, T.O., M.P., I.S., F.S., J.S., J.V. and P.W. prepared the online diagnostic experiments with the TOF polarimeter. M.I., A.O.L., J.B., R.N.C., L.D., J.G., G.H., N.H., S.M., T.O., M.P., F.S., I.S., J.S., J.V. and P.W. performed the experiments with the TOF polarimeter, and A.O.L., M.I., G.H. and J.B. analysed the data offline. A.O.L. provided online data analysis. D.H., G.L.D., H.A.D., K.H. and W.F.S. measured the photon beam with the XMCD technique, and D.H. and K.H. analysed the data. F.P. designed the Delta built at SLAC. Z.R.W. and Y.I.L. measured and tuned the Delta before installation. H.-D.N. is the Delta undulator project lead.

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Correspondence to Alberto A. Lutman.

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Lutman, A., MacArthur, J., Ilchen, M. et al. Polarization control in an X-ray free-electron laser. Nature Photon 10, 468–472 (2016).

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