Spectrally broad X-ray pulses can be “sharpened” by purely mechanical means

Abrupt motion sharpens X-ray pulses

A team of theoretical and experimental physicists, including scientists from DESY, lead by the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK in Heidelberg, Germany) has developed and realized a method to “sharpen” spectrally broad X-ray pulses by purely mechanical means. It is based on fast motions, precisely synchronized with the pulses, of a target interacting with the X-ray light. Thereby, photons are redistributed within the X-ray pulse to the desired spectral region, as the scientists demonstrated at DESYs X-ray source PETRA III and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility ESRF (Grenoble, France). The researchers present their work in the journal “Science”.

The novel method can intensify the spectrally broad X-ray pulses in a narrow spectral region. Such X-ray pulses are desired for a number of fundamental physics experiments or are a prerequisite for some precision experiments. The key roles are played by a piezoelectric transducer which performs precise motions upon electric signals and by a thin iron foil. Precisely synchronized motions redistribute the photons within the X-ray pulse to a narrow wavelength region. “Our method doesn’t waste photons like a monochromator that only cuts off the undesired wavelengths”, explains Jörg Evers from the division of Christoph Keitel at MPIK. “On the other hand, we don’t need to increase the overall energy of the X-ray pulse.”

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