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A new tool to split X-ray laser pulses

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Posted August 9, 2013
This soft X-ray split-and-delay system divides individual X-ray laser pulses into two separate, closely spaced pulses at SLAC's LCLS. Credit: Matt Beardsley/SLAC

This soft X-ray split-and-delay system divides individual X-ray laser pulses into two separate, closely spaced pulses at SLAC’s LCLS. Credit: Matt Beardsley/SLAC

A new tool at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source splits individual X-ray laser pulses into two pulses that can hit a target one right after another with precisely controlled timing, allowing scientists to trigger and measure specific ultrafast changes in atoms and molecules.

Built through a collaboration of SLAC and Western Michigan University and installed in May, the system controls the tilt and height of two silicon mirrors to split the pulses and vary their arrival times by up to 200 femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second, with a timing accuracy down to a fraction of a femtosecond.

The soft X-ray split-and-delay tool has already been put to use in two experiments at LCLS.

“It’s working even better than designed,” said Brendan Murphy, a postdoctoral research associate at Western Michigan University who played a leading role in the system’s development. “With these first experiments we’ve established that this is an effective tool that offers unique strengths over other approaches.”

Nora Berrah of Western Michigan University, who has led pioneering experimentsat LCLS, worked with John Bozek, a staff scientist who manages the LCLS Soft X-ray Department, to oversee the development of the split-and-delay system. Berrah said the split-and-delay tool can be used to study and refine the timeline of fundamental processes in molecules and atoms, such as the creation of highly charged states, and explore the rearrangement of an atom’s innermost electrons.

 

Read more at: Phys.org

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