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Nat Photonics. 2012 Feb;6(2):111-114. Epub 2012 Jan 15.

X-ray pump optical probe cross-correlation study of GaAs.

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  • 1Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907, USA.


Ultrafast dynamics in atomic, molecular and condensed-matter systems are increasingly being studied using optical-pump, X-ray probe techniques where subpicosecond laser pulses excite the system and X-rays detect changes in absorption spectra and local atomic structure(1-3). New opportunities are appearing as a result of improved synchrotron capabilities and the advent of X-ray free-electron lasers(4,5). These source improvements also allow for the reverse measurement: X-ray pump followed by optical probe. We describe here how an X-ray pump beam transforms a thin GaAs specimen from a strong absorber into a nearly transparent window in less than 100 ps, for laser photon energies just above the bandgap. We find the opposite effect-X-ray induced optical opacity-for photon energies just below the bandgap. This raises interesting questions about the ultrafast many-body response of semiconductors to X-ray absorption, and provides a new approach for an X-ray/optical cross-correlator for synchrotron and X-ray free-electron laser applications.

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