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Rev Sci Instrum. 2013 Dec;84(12):123106. doi: 10.1063/1.4842237.

Laser wakefield generated X-ray probe for femtosecond time-resolved measurements of ionization states of warm dense aluminum.

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  • 1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2V4, Canada.
  • 2INRS-EMT, Université du Québec, 1650 Lionel Boulet, Varennes, Québec J3X 1S2, Canada.
  • 3Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia, British Columbia V6T 1Z1, Canada.


We have developed a laser wakefield generated X-ray probe to directly measure the temporal evolution of the ionization states in warm dense aluminum by means of absorption spectroscopy. As a promising alternative to the free electron excited X-ray sources, Betatron X-ray radiation, with femtosecond pulse duration, provides a new technique to diagnose femtosecond to picosecond transitions in the atomic structure. The X-ray probe system consists of an adjustable Kirkpatrick-Baez (KB) microscope for focusing the Betatron emission to a small probe spot on the sample being measured, and a flat Potassium Acid Phthalate Bragg crystal spectrometer to measure the transmitted X-ray spectrum in the region of the aluminum K-edge absorption lines. An X-ray focal spot size of around 50 μm was achieved after reflection from the platinum-coated 10-cm-long KB microscope mirrors. Shot to shot positioning stability of the Betatron radiation was measured resulting in an rms shot to shot variation in spatial pointing on the sample of 16 μm. The entire probe setup had a spectral resolution of ~1.5 eV, a detection bandwidth of ~24 eV, and an overall photon throughput efficiency of the order of 10(-5). Approximately 10 photons were detected by the X-ray CCD per laser shot within the spectrally resolved detection band. Thus, it is expected that hundreds of shots will be required per absorption spectrum to clearly observe the K-shell absorption features expected from the ionization states of the warm dense aluminum.

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