European XFEL Seminar

X-ray free electron lasers as excitation and probe of matter at extremes in static targets

by Prof. R.S. McWilliams (School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)




The exploration of extreme states of matter – that is, high densities, pressures, and temperatures – has benefitted vastly from the availability of X-ray Free Electron Laser sources.  However, these experiments are frequently destructive to samples, limiting the conditions and timescales accessible as well as the types of samples that can be studied.  Here I discuss laboratory experiments using high intensity XFEL sources on fixed targets reaching very high temperatures (in electron Volt range) and pressures (millions of atmospheres) without sample loss.  We explore material phases at the conditions of terrestrial and giant planet interiors, ultrafast chemical reactions, and damage mechanics in radiation-matter interactions, while bridging a wide range of timescales (femtoseconds to milliseconds), nonequilibrium and equilibrium conditions, and a variety of dynamic processes.  I discuss stabilizing targets for accessing more extreme states, such as imposing static high pressure conditions within samples during irradiation using Diamond Anvil Cells.  New experimental diagnostics and computational tools developed to explore these long duration experiments will be discussed. Our findings have implications for the durability and performance of samples, targets, and optics over repeated XFEL exposures, including MHz rate experiments now ongoing at European XFEL.

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336. Is e buidheann carthannais a th’ ann an Oilthigh Dhùn Èideann, clàraichte an Alba, àireamh clàraidh SC005336.

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