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Nat Commun. 2017 May 30;8:15626. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15626.

Attosecond interferometry with self-amplified spontaneous emission of a free-electron laser.

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Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, Notkestraße 85, Hamburg 22607, Germany.
The Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging CUI, Luruper Chaussee 149, Hamburg 22761, Germany.
Department of Physics, University of Hamburg, Hamburg 22761, Germany.
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg 22043, Germany.


Light-phase-sensitive techniques, such as coherent multidimensional spectroscopy, are well-established in a broad spectral range, already spanning from radio-frequencies in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to visible and ultraviolet wavelengths in nonlinear optics with table-top lasers. In these cases, the ability to tailor the phases of electromagnetic waves with high precision is essential. Here we achieve phase control of extreme-ultraviolet pulses from a free-electron laser (FEL) on the attosecond timescale in a Michelson-type all-reflective interferometric autocorrelator. By varying the relative phase of the generated pulse replicas with sub-cycle precision we observe the field interference, that is, the light-wave oscillation with a period of 129 as. The successful transfer of a powerful optical method towards short-wavelength FEL science and technology paves the way towards utilization of advanced nonlinear methodologies even at partially coherent soft X-ray FEL sources that rely on self-amplified spontaneous emission.

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