Femtosecond X-ray Pulses at 0.4 Å Generated by 90° Thomson Scattering: A Tool for Probing the Structural Dynamics of Materials

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Science  11 Oct 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5285, pp. 236-238
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5285.236


Pulses of x-rays 300 femtoseconds in duration at a wavelength of 0.4 angstroms (30,000 electron volts) have been generated by 90° Thomson scattering between infrared terawatt laser pulses and highly relativistic electrons from an accelerator. In the right-angle scattering geometry, the duration of the x-ray burst is determined by the transit time of the laser pulse across the ∼ 90-micrometer waist of the focused electron beam. The x-rays are highly directed (∼ 0.6° divergence) and can be tuned in energy. This source of femtosecond x-rays will make it possible to combine x-ray techniques with ultrafast time resolution to investigate structural dynamics in condensed matter.