Spectral narrowing of x-ray pulses for precision spectroscopy with nuclear resonances

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Science  28 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6349, pp. 375-378
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3512

Spectral narrowing of x-rays

Modern photon factories typically provide x-ray pulses that are orders of magnitude broader in frequency space than the corresponding atomic or nuclear resonances to be probed. For many spectroscopic applications, however, narrower x-ray light sources are desired. By using precise mechanical displacements of a reference absorber to simulate the effect of an x-ray control field, Heeg et al. show that they can spectrally narrow input x-ray pulses. The conversion of off-resonant photons into resonant ones results in increased pulse brilliance at the desired resonant frequency, thereby providing a sharp x-ray probe for precision spectroscopy.

Science, this issue p. 375


Spectroscopy of nuclear resonances offers a wide range of applications due to the remarkable energy resolution afforded by their narrow linewidths. However, progress toward higher resolution is inhibited at modern x-ray sources because they deliver only a tiny fraction of the photons on resonance, with the remainder contributing to an off-resonant background. We devised an experimental setup that uses the fast mechanical motion of a resonant target to manipulate the spectrum of a given x-ray pulse and to redistribute off-resonant spectral intensity onto the resonance. As a consequence, the resonant pulse brilliance is increased while the off-resonant background is reduced. Because our method is compatible with existing and upcoming pulsed x-ray sources, we anticipate that this approach will find applications that require ultranarrow x-ray resonances.

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