Observation of ultrafast solid-density plasma dynamics using femtosecond X-ray pulses from a free-electron laser

Thomas Kluge, Melanie Rödel, Josefine Metzkes-Ng, Alexander Pelka, Alejandro Laso Garcia, Irene Prencipe, Martin Rehwald, Motoaki Nakatsutsumi, Emma E. McBride, Tommy Schönherr, Marco Garten, Nicholas J. Hartley, Malte Zacharias, Jörg Grenzer, Artur Erbe, Yordan M. Georgiev, Eric Galtier, Inhyuk Nam, Hae Ja Lee, Siegfried GlenzerMichael Bussmann, Christian Gutt, Karl Zeil, Christian Rödel, Uwe Hübner, Ulrich Schramm, Thomas E. Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


The complex physics of the interaction between short-pulse ultrahigh-intensity lasers and solids is so far difficult to access experimentally, and the development of compact laser-based next-generation secondary radiation sources, e.g., for tumor therapy, laboratory astrophysics, and fusion, is hindered by the lack of diagnostic capabilities to probe the complex electron dynamics and competing instabilities. At present, the fundamental plasma dynamics that occur at the nanometer and femtosecond scales during the laser-solid interaction can only be elucidated by simulations. Here we show experimentally that small-angle x-ray scattering of femtosecond x-ray free-electron laser pulses facilitates new capabilities for direct in situ characterization of intense short-pulse laser-plasma interactions at solid density that allows simultaneous nanometer spatial and femtosecond temporal resolution, directly verifying numerical simulations of the electron density dynamics during the short-pulse high-intensity laser irradiation of a solid density target. For laser-driven grating targets, we measure the solid density plasma expansion and observe the generation of a transient grating structure in front of the preinscribed grating, due to plasma expansion. The density maxima are interleaved, forming a double frequency grating in x-ray free-electron laser projection for a short time, which is a hitherto unknown effect. We expect that our results will pave the way for novel time-resolved studies, guiding the development of future laser-driven particle and photon sources from solid targets.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031068
JournalPhysical Review X
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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