"We propose to develop a compact source of x-rays, with sub-femtosecond duration, near-perfect spatial coherence, and photon energy approaching 500 eV.
Such a source will be an essential tool for attoscience and nanometre-resolution microscopy. In particular, the importance of sub-femtosecond dynamics is being appreciated in a rapidly growing range of contexts, including nanoplasmonics and charge migration in biomolecules. The transparency window of water (280 eV to 530 eV) is particularly attractive for structural and dynamical imaging of biological samples.
We shall use high-harmonic generation driven by mid-infrared (2 micron) light. The principle advantage of a long-wavelength drive over the visible (800 nm) drive fields which currently receive much attention is the higher energy of the emitted x-rays photons, which scale with the square of the drive wavelength. There are also numerous potential technical advantages, including greater robustness through the use of intrinsically phase-stable mid-infrared sources based on difference-frequency generation, and greater brightness at high photon energies through improved phase matching."
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