Collection |

Free-Electron Lasers

Photon sources, such as table-top lasers, synchrotron X-rays and free-electron lasers (FELs), can be used to explore and understand the structure of materials through photon-matter interactions.  Short wavelength and coherent photons generated, when relativistic electrons travel through undulator, from FELs are tunable and compressible to few femtosecond pulses to take snapshots of structures in order to study the time-dependent interactions and dynamics of different materials. These facilities are becoming increasingly popular in diverse research fields, because of their tunability and high spatial and temporal resolution.

In this collection, we showcase recent articles published in Nature Communications on FEL generation and characterization and their application in fundamental studies of light-matter interaction. These research papers include FEL instrumentation and techniques, investigations on photoionization and ultrafast processes in atomic and molecular physics, chemical and physical properties of condensed matter systems, and probing of structure and dynamics of biological samples. This collection highlights the increasingly significant role FELs are having on research across a diverse range of subject areas and Nature Communications’ role as a suitable platform in publishing such multidisciplinary works.

FEL Techniques

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Short laser pulses of femtosecond time scales are in high demand in order to explore the fast electron dynamics in light-matter interactions. Here, the authors demonstrated the compression of free electron laser pulses in the extreme ultraviolet range by using a chirped pulse amplification technique.

    • David Gauthier
    • , Enrico Allaria
    • , Marcello Coreno
    • , Ivan Cudin
    • , Hugo Dacasa
    • , Miltcho Boyanov Danailov
    • , Alexander Demidovich
    • , Simone Di Mitri
    • , Bruno Diviacco
    • , Eugenio Ferrari
    • , Paola Finetti
    • , Fabio Frassetto
    • , David Garzella
    • , Swen Künzel
    • , Vincent Leroux
    • , Benoît Mahieu
    • , Nicola Mahne
    • , Michael Meyer
    • , Tommaso Mazza
    • , Paolo Miotti
    • , Giuseppe Penco
    • , Lorenzo Raimondi
    • , Primož Rebernik Ribič
    • , Robert Richter
    • , Eléonore Roussel
    • , Sebastian Schulz
    • , Luca Sturari
    • , Cristian Svetina
    • , Mauro Trovò
    • , Paul Andreas Walker
    • , Marco Zangrando
    • , Carlo Callegari
    • , Marta Fajardo
    • , Luca Poletto
    • , Philippe Zeitoun
    • , Luca Giannessi
    •  &  Giovanni De Ninno
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Phase-sensitive measurements are important to gain insights of light-matter interactions and require phase-controlled pulses. Here the authors demonstrate the phase control and interferometric autocorrelation on a free electron laser using SASE pulse pair created with a split and delay unit.

    • Sergey Usenko
    • , Andreas Przystawik
    • , Markus Alexander Jakob
    • , Leslie Lamberto Lazzarino
    • , Günter Brenner
    • , Sven Toleikis
    • , Christian Haunhorst
    • , Detlef Kip
    •  &  Tim Laarmann
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Free electron laser beam profile characterization is usually performed separately from the actual measurements and this leads to considerable uncertainty in the results. Here the authors demonstrate the simultaneous measurement of the FEL beam profile with the experiment by using integrated gratings.

    • Michael Schneider
    • , Christian M. Günther
    • , Bastian Pfau
    • , Flavio Capotondi
    • , Michele Manfredda
    • , Marco Zangrando
    • , Nicola Mahne
    • , Lorenzo Raimondi
    • , Emanuele Pedersoli
    • , Denys Naumenko
    •  &  Stefan Eisebitt
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    X-ray spectroscopy is a tool used for the investigation of aqueous solutions but the strong absorption of water means that very thin liquid sheets are needed for accurate analysis. Here the authors produce free-flowing liquid sheets 2 orders of magnitude thinner than sheets obtained with existing techniques.

    • Jake D. Koralek
    • , Jongjin B. Kim
    • , Petr Brůža
    • , Chandra B. Curry
    • , Zhijiang Chen
    • , Hans A. Bechtel
    • , Amy A. Cordones
    • , Philipp Sperling
    • , Sven Toleikis
    • , Jan F. Kern
    • , Stefan P. Moeller
    • , Siegfried H. Glenzer
    •  &  Daniel P. DePonte
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    X-ray free-electron lasers, important light sources for materials research, suffer from shot-to-shot fluctuations that necessitate complex diagnostics. Here, the authors apply machine learning to accurately predict pulse properties, using parameters that can be acquired at high-repetition rates.

    • A. Sanchez-Gonzalez
    • , P. Micaelli
    • , C. Olivier
    • , T. R. Barillot
    • , M. Ilchen
    • , A. A. Lutman
    • , A. Marinelli
    • , T. Maxwell
    • , A. Achner
    • , M. Agåker
    • , N. Berrah
    • , C. Bostedt
    • , J. D. Bozek
    • , J. Buck
    • , P. H. Bucksbaum
    • , S. Carron Montero
    • , B. Cooper
    • , J. P. Cryan
    • , M. Dong
    • , R. Feifel
    • , L. J. Frasinski
    • , H. Fukuzawa
    • , A. Galler
    • , G. Hartmann
    • , N. Hartmann
    • , W. Helml
    • , A. S. Johnson
    • , A. Knie
    • , A. O. Lindahl
    • , J. Liu
    • , K. Motomura
    • , M. Mucke
    • , C. O’Grady
    • , J-E Rubensson
    • , E. R. Simpson
    • , R. J. Squibb
    • , C. Såthe
    • , K. Ueda
    • , M. Vacher
    • , D. J. Walke
    • , V. Zhaunerchyk
    • , R. N. Coffee
    •  &  J. P. Marangos
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    X-ray optics are notoriously challenging to fabricate due to the strict tolerances that result from the short wavelength of radiation. Here, Seiboth et al. carefully quantify aberrations in complex X-ray lenses and correct them with an easy-to-fabricate broadband phase plate.

    • Frank Seiboth
    • , Andreas Schropp
    • , Maria Scholz
    • , Felix Wittwer
    • , Christian Rödel
    • , Martin Wünsche
    • , Tobias Ullsperger
    • , Stefan Nolte
    • , Jussi Rahomäki
    • , Karolis Parfeniukas
    • , Stylianos Giakoumidis
    • , Ulrich Vogt
    • , Ulrich Wagner
    • , Christoph Rau
    • , Ulrike Boesenberg
    • , Jan Garrevoet
    • , Gerald Falkenberg
    • , Eric C. Galtier
    • , Hae Ja Lee
    • , Bob Nagler
    •  &  Christian G. Schroer

XFELs in structural biology

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    X-ray free electron lasers are increasingly available for use in macromolecular structure determination. Here, the authors describe the successful use of selenium single-wavelength anomalous diffraction data to calculate experimentally derived phases.

    • Mark S. Hunter
    • , Chun Hong Yoon
    • , Hasan DeMirci
    • , Raymond G. Sierra
    • , E. Han Dao
    • , Radman Ahmadi
    • , Fulya Aksit
    • , Andrew L. Aquila
    • , Halilibrahim Ciftci
    • , Serge Guillet
    • , Matt J. Hayes
    • , Thomas J. Lane
    • , Meng Liang
    • , Ulf Lundström
    • , Jason E. Koglin
    • , Paul Mgbam
    • , Yashas Rao
    • , Lindsey Zhang
    • , Soichi Wakatsuki
    • , James M. Holton
    •  &  Sébastien Boutet
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Mass spectrometry is a leading method used for sequencing peptides and proteins by fragmentation followed by analysis of the sequence fragments. Here, the authors use infrared spectroscopy to characterize the structures of peptide fragments formed during electron transfer dissociation.

    • Jonathan Martens
    • , Josipa Grzetic
    • , Giel Berden
    •  &  Jos Oomens
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Diacylglycerol kinase is a small bacterial membrane-bound trimer that catalyses diacylglycerol conversion to phosphatidic acid. Here, the authors solve the crystal structure of the kinase bound to a lipid substrate and an ATP analogue, and show that the active site arose through convergent evolution.

    • Dianfan Li
    • , Phillip J. Stansfeld
    • , Mark S. P. Sansom
    • , Aaron Keogh
    • , Lutz Vogeley
    • , Nicole Howe
    • , Joseph A. Lyons
    • , David Aragao
    • , Petra Fromme
    • , Raimund Fromme
    • , Shibom Basu
    • , Ingo Grotjohann
    • , Christopher Kupitz
    • , Kimberley Rendek
    • , Uwe Weierstall
    • , Nadia A. Zatsepin
    • , Vadim Cherezov
    • , Wei Liu
    • , Sateesh Bandaru
    • , Niall J. English
    • , Cornelius Gati
    • , Anton Barty
    • , Oleksandr Yefanov
    • , Henry N. Chapman
    • , Kay Diederichs
    • , Marc Messerschmidt
    • , Sébastien Boutet
    • , Garth J. Williams
    • , M. Marvin Seibert
    •  &  Martin Caffrey
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Smoothened receptors (SMO) play a key role in the Hedgehog signalling pathway. Here the authors present the structure of a multi-domain human SMO with a rationally designed stabilizing ligand bound in the transmembrane domain of the receptor, and propose a model for SMO activation.

    • Xianjun Zhang
    • , Fei Zhao
    • , Yiran Wu
    • , Jun Yang
    • , Gye Won Han
    • , Suwen Zhao
    • , Andrii Ishchenko
    • , Lintao Ye
    • , Xi Lin
    • , Kang Ding
    • , Venkatasubramanian Dharmarajan
    • , Patrick R. Griffin
    • , Cornelius Gati
    • , Garrett Nelson
    • , Mark S. Hunter
    • , Michael A. Hanson
    • , Vadim Cherezov
    • , Raymond C. Stevens
    • , Wenfu Tan
    • , Houchao Tao
    •  &  Fei Xu
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Imaging live cells at nanometre resolution is challenging because radiation damage kills the cells during exposure. Here, the authors overcome this difficulty in a ‘diffraction before destruction’ experiment using an X-ray laser and record signal to 4 nm resolution on a free-flying cell.

    • Gijs van der Schot
    • , Martin Svenda
    • , Filipe R. N. C. Maia
    • , Max Hantke
    • , Daniel P. DePonte
    • , M. Marvin Seibert
    • , Andrew Aquila
    • , Joachim Schulz
    • , Richard Kirian
    • , Mengning Liang
    • , Francesco Stellato
    • , Bianca Iwan
    • , Jakob Andreasson
    • , Nicusor Timneanu
    • , Daniel Westphal
    • , F. Nunes Almeida
    • , Dusko Odic
    • , Dirk Hasse
    • , Gunilla H. Carlsson
    • , Daniel S. D. Larsson
    • , Anton Barty
    • , Andrew V. Martin
    • , Sebastian Schorb
    • , Christoph Bostedt
    • , John D. Bozek
    • , Daniel Rolles
    • , Artem Rudenko
    • , Sascha Epp
    • , Lutz Foucar
    • , Benedikt Rudek
    • , Robert Hartmann
    • , Nils Kimmel
    • , Peter Holl
    • , Lars Englert
    • , Ne-Te Duane Loh
    • , Henry N. Chapman
    • , Inger Andersson
    • , Janos Hajdu
    •  &  Tomas Ekeberg
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Structure determination of glycosylated HIV-1 envelope (Env) trimers complexed with broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) promotes a better understanding of bNAb epitopes. Here the authors present the structures of natively-glycosylated Env in complex with the highly-potent bNAb BG18, which is of interest for HIV-1 vaccine development.

    • Christopher O. Barnes
    • , Harry B. Gristick
    • , Natalia T. Freund
    • , Amelia Escolano
    • , Artem Y. Lyubimov
    • , Harald Hartweger
    • , Anthony P. West Jr.
    • , Aina E. Cohen
    • , Michel C. Nussenzweig
    •  &  Pamela J. Bjorkman

FELs in condensed matter

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Two-colour X-ray free electron laser is a powerful tool for pump–probe measurements, but currently constrained by limited tunability. Here, Ferrari et al. develop a configuration that allows tuning both the pump and the probe to specific electronic excitations, providing element selectivity.

    • Eugenio Ferrari
    • , Carlo Spezzani
    • , Franck Fortuna
    • , Renaud Delaunay
    • , Franck Vidal
    • , Ivaylo Nikolov
    • , Paolo Cinquegrana
    • , Bruno Diviacco
    • , David Gauthier
    • , Giuseppe Penco
    • , Primož Rebernik Ribič
    • , Eleonore Roussel
    • , Marco Trovò
    • , Jean-Baptiste Moussy
    • , Tommaso Pincelli
    • , Lounès Lounis
    • , Michele Manfredda
    • , Emanuele Pedersoli
    • , Flavio Capotondi
    • , Cristian Svetina
    • , Nicola Mahne
    • , Marco Zangrando
    • , Lorenzo Raimondi
    • , Alexander Demidovich
    • , Luca Giannessi
    • , Giovanni De Ninno
    • , Miltcho Boyanov Danailov
    • , Enrico Allaria
    •  &  Maurizio Sacchi
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    It is essential to understand the effect of molecular vibration on charge transport for better design of molecular electronics. Here, the authors test two benchmark aromatic motifs and show how the coupling between π electrons and molecular vibration is affected by molecular edge topology.

    • Héctor Álvaro Galué
    • , Jos Oomens
    • , Wybren Jan Buma
    •  &  Britta Redlich
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Interatomic Coulombic decay (ICD) is a relaxation of an atom in a weakly bound environment by the transfer of excess energy to ionize the neighbouring atom. Here the authors observe intra-Rydberg ICD in neon clusters, which is a decay that involves the ionization of Rydberg atoms in the cluster.

    • K. Nagaya
    • , D. Iablonskyi
    • , N. V. Golubev
    • , K. Matsunami
    • , H. Fukuzawa
    • , K. Motomura
    • , T. Nishiyama
    • , T. Sakai
    • , T. Tachibana
    • , S. Mondal
    • , S. Wada
    • , K. C. Prince
    • , C. Callegari
    • , C. Miron
    • , N. Saito
    • , M. Yabashi
    • , Ph. V. Demekhin
    • , L. S. Cederbaum
    • , A. I. Kuleff
    • , M. Yao
    •  &  K. Ueda
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy has been mainly used to measure slow dynamics using synchrotron sources. Here the authors demonstrate the split-and- delay pulse set-up to study nanosecond dynamics of gold nanoparticles using XPCS with free electron laser pulses.

    • W. Roseker
    • , S. O. Hruszkewycz
    • , F. Lehmkühler
    • , M. Walther
    • , H. Schulte-Schrepping
    • , S. Lee
    • , T. Osaka
    • , L. Strüder
    • , R. Hartmann
    • , M. Sikorski
    • , S. Song
    • , A. Robert
    • , P. H. Fuoss
    • , M. Sutton
    • , G. B. Stephenson
    •  &  G. Grübel
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The dynamics of liquid water is rich due to its complex, highly disordered hydrogen-bond network, which hasn’t been fully understood. Perakis et al. measure water dynamics at sub-100 fs and show that it cannot be described by simple thermal motion due to the build-up of tetrahedral structures upon supercooling.

    • Fivos Perakis
    • , Gaia Camisasca
    • , Thomas J. Lane
    • , Alexander Späh
    • , Kjartan Thor Wikfeldt
    • , Jonas A. Sellberg
    • , Felix Lehmkühler
    • , Harshad Pathak
    • , Kyung Hwan Kim
    • , Katrin Amann-Winkel
    • , Simon Schreck
    • , Sanghoon Song
    • , Takahiro Sato
    • , Marcin Sikorski
    • , Andre Eilert
    • , Trevor McQueen
    • , Hirohito Ogasawara
    • , Dennis Nordlund
    • , Wojciech Roseker
    • , Jake Koralek
    • , Silke Nelson
    • , Philip Hart
    • , Roberto Alonso-Mori
    • , Yiping Feng
    • , Diling Zhu
    • , Aymeric Robert
    • , Gerhard Grübel
    • , Lars G. M. Pettersson
    •  &  Anders Nilsson
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Many photo-induced processes such as photosynthesis occur in organic molecules, but their femtosecond excited-state dynamics are difficult to track. Here, the authors exploit the element and site selectivity of soft X-ray absorption to sensitively follow the ultrafast ππ*/* electronic relaxation of hetero-organic molecules.

    • T. J. A. Wolf
    • , R. H. Myhre
    • , J. P. Cryan
    • , S. Coriani
    • , R. J. Squibb
    • , A. Battistoni
    • , N. Berrah
    • , C. Bostedt
    • , P. Bucksbaum
    • , G. Coslovich
    • , R. Feifel
    • , K. J. Gaffney
    • , J. Grilj
    • , T. J. Martinez
    • , S. Miyabe
    • , S. P. Moeller
    • , M. Mucke
    • , A. Natan
    • , R. Obaid
    • , T. Osipov
    • , O. Plekan
    • , S. Wang
    • , H. Koch
    •  &  M. Gühr

FELs in atomic and molecular physics

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The timescale of isomerization in molecules involving ultrafast migration of constituent atoms is difficult to measure. Here the authors report that sub-100 fs isomerization time on acetylene dication in lower electronic states is not possible and point to misinterpretation of recent experimental results.

    • Zheng Li
    • , Ludger Inhester
    • , Chelsea Liekhus-Schmaltz
    • , Basile F. E. Curchod
    • , James W. Snyder Jr.
    • , Nikita Medvedev
    • , James Cryan
    • , Timur Osipov
    • , Stefan Pabst
    • , Oriol Vendrell
    • , Phil Bucksbaum
    •  &  Todd J. Martinez
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Proton migration in the acetylene cation is commonly used as a model to study isomerisation dynamics. Here, the authors use X-ray pump-probe experiments to study this process, and show that isomerization occurs significantly faster than expected—within the first 12 femtoseconds following core ionization.

    • Chelsea E. Liekhus-Schmaltz
    • , Ian Tenney
    • , Timur Osipov
    • , Alvaro Sanchez-Gonzalez
    • , Nora Berrah
    • , Rebecca Boll
    • , Cedric Bomme
    • , Christoph Bostedt
    • , John D. Bozek
    • , Sebastian Carron
    • , Ryan Coffee
    • , Julien Devin
    • , Benjamin Erk
    • , Ken R. Ferguson
    • , Robert W. Field
    • , Lutz Foucar
    • , Leszek J. Frasinski
    • , James M. Glownia
    • , Markus Gühr
    • , Andrei Kamalov
    • , Jacek Krzywinski
    • , Heng Li
    • , Jonathan P. Marangos
    • , Todd J. Martinez
    • , Brian K. McFarland
    • , Shungo Miyabe
    • , Brendan Murphy
    • , Adi Natan
    • , Daniel Rolles
    • , Artem Rudenko
    • , Marco Siano
    • , Emma R. Simpson
    • , Limor Spector
    • , Michele Swiggers
    • , Daniel Walke
    • , Song Wang
    • , Thorsten Weber
    • , Philip H. Bucksbaum
    •  &  Vladimir S. Petrovic
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Two-color X-ray pulses with controlled time delay allow exciting one site of a molecule and then probing a different site of the same molecule with femtosecond resolution. Here, the authors use this hetero-site pump-probe technique to study charge redistribution and dissociation of the xenon difluoride molecule.

    • A. Picón
    • , C. S. Lehmann
    • , C. Bostedt
    • , A. Rudenko
    • , A. Marinelli
    • , T. Osipov
    • , D. Rolles
    • , N. Berrah
    • , C. Bomme
    • , M. Bucher
    • , G. Doumy
    • , B. Erk
    • , K. R. Ferguson
    • , T. Gorkhover
    • , P. J. Ho
    • , E. P. Kanter
    • , B. Krässig
    • , J. Krzywinski
    • , A. A. Lutman
    • , A. M. March
    • , D. Moonshiram
    • , D. Ray
    • , L. Young
    • , S. T. Pratt
    •  &  S. H. Southworth
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Electrons in atoms exhibit many-body collective behaviours that can be studied by highbrightness X-rays from FELs. Here, the authors examine two-photon above threshold ionization of xenon and find that nonlinearities in the response uncover that more than one state underpins the 4d giant resonance.

    • T. Mazza
    • , A. Karamatskou
    • , M. Ilchen
    • , S. Bakhtiarzadeh
    • , A. J. Rafipoor
    • , P. O’Keeffe
    • , T. J. Kelly
    • , N. Walsh
    • , J. T. Costello
    • , M. Meyer
    •  &  R. Santra
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Exploring the photoionization process leads to better understanding of the fundamental interactions between light and matter. Here the authors show the non-dipole contribution in the form of asymmetric photoelectron angular distribution from the ionization of argon atoms and ions.

    • M. Ilchen
    • , G. Hartmann
    • , E. V. Gryzlova
    • , A. Achner
    • , E. Allaria
    • , A. Beckmann
    • , M. Braune
    • , J. Buck
    • , C. Callegari
    • , R. N. Coffee
    • , R. Cucini
    • , M. Danailov
    • , A. De Fanis
    • , A. Demidovich
    • , E. Ferrari
    • , P. Finetti
    • , L. Glaser
    • , A. Knie
    • , A. O. Lindahl
    • , O. Plekan
    • , N. Mahne
    • , T. Mazza
    • , L. Raimondi
    • , E. Roussel
    • , F. Scholz
    • , J. Seltmann
    • , I. Shevchuk
    • , C. Svetina
    • , P. Walter
    • , M. Zangrando
    • , J. Viefhaus
    • , A. N. Grum-Grzhimailo
    •  &  M. Meyer
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Availability of intense hard X-ray pulses allows exploration of multiple ionization effects in heavier elements. Here, the authors measure the complex charge state distributions of xenon and found a reasonable agreement by comparing with the model including the relativistic and resonance effects.

    • Benedikt Rudek
    • , Koudai Toyota
    • , Lutz Foucar
    • , Benjamin Erk
    • , Rebecca Boll
    • , Cédric Bomme
    • , Jonathan Correa
    • , Sebastian Carron
    • , Sébastien Boutet
    • , Garth J. Williams
    • , Ken R. Ferguson
    • , Roberto Alonso-Mori
    • , Jason E. Koglin
    • , Tais Gorkhover
    • , Maximilian Bucher
    • , Carl Stefan Lehmann
    • , Bertold Krässig
    • , Stephen H. Southworth
    • , Linda Young
    • , Christoph Bostedt
    • , Kiyoshi Ueda
    • , Tatiana Marchenko
    • , Marc Simon
    • , Zoltan Jurek
    • , Robin Santra
    • , Artem Rudenko
    • , Sang-Kil Son
    •  &  Daniel Rolles