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Sci Adv. 2018 May 11;4(5):eaar3761. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3761. eCollection 2018 May.

High-flux soft x-ray harmonic generation from ionization-shaped few-cycle laser pulses.

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Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2AZ, UK.


Laser-driven high-harmonic generation provides the only demonstrated route to generating stable, tabletop attosecond x-ray pulses but has low flux compared to other x-ray technologies. We show that high-harmonic generation can produce higher photon energies and flux by using higher laser intensities than are typical, strongly ionizing the medium and creating plasma that reshapes the driving laser field. We obtain high harmonics capable of supporting attosecond pulses up to photon energies of 600 eV and a photon flux inside the water window (284 to 540 eV) 10 times higher than previous attosecond sources. We demonstrate that operating in this regime is key for attosecond pulse generation in the x-ray range and will become increasingly important as harmonic generation moves to fields that drive even longer wavelengths.

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