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X-ray Optics and Applications

The X-Ray Optics and Applications group of LMN works on various fields of research involving the control of x-rays with ultimate precision. We develop instrumentation for large scale facilities such as synchrotrons and x-ray free electron lasers (X-FELs), by applying nanolithography techniques. This includes x-ray diffractive optics such as Fresnel zone plate lenses for imaging and probing of matter on a micro- and nanometer scale. Our optics are used at many synchrotron beam lines worldwide and hold the resolution record in x-ray microscopy. For applications that do not require ultimate resolution, we pursue novel approaches to obtain very high diffraction efficiencies.

Interferometric imaging techniques using hard x-rays also rely on specialized micro-fabricated gratings. The possibility to use this technique not only with synchrotron radiation but also with incoherent x-rays from tube sources makes the technique interesting for commercial applications. The extreme sensitivity of grating interferometry also provides a powerful tool for x-ray optics metrology and wavefront sensing.

The development of a new generation of x-ray sources based on the x-ray free-electron laser (X-FEL) principle have triggered the development of specialized diffractive optics. In order to withstand the extreme power levels of X-FELs, we make Fresnel zone plates based on diamond substrates. Similar devices are made for applications such as spectral monitoring or beam splitting. The latter is used to build multiple split-and-delay lines for ultra-fast pump-probe experiments with unprecedented timing precision.

For the fabrication of these devices, the X-Ray Optics and Applications Group runs LMN’s high performance electron-beam lithography tool Vistec EBPG 5000PlusES, that is also used by many other internal and external research groups.


24 November 2017

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Extreme Ultraviolet Vortices at Free Electron Lasers

PSI scientists have developed tailored diffractive X-ray optics for a free electron laser that induces an optical vortex in extreme ultraviolet radiation. The experiment facilitates the first demonstration of orbital angular momentum in radiation created by a free electron laser in the extreme ultraviolet regime, with an extraordinary clean and defined wavefront. In a collaborative effort with researchers from the FERMI free electron laser in Trieste, Italy and from the University of Nova Gorica in Slovenia, the wavefront of the intense beams carrying an orbtial angular momentum was characterized. Furthermore, a method to characterize the footprint of a focused beam from a free electron laser was refined based on ablation imprints in polymers and subsequent treatment with organic solvents. In this way, the sensitivity of the imprint method could be enhanced to a dynamic range of three orders of magnitude in a single shot.

18 August 2017

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A new RIXS analyzer scheme based on transmission zone plates

PSI scientists have developed a new type of X-ray optics that allows for analyzing the emission in resonant inelastic x-ray scattering (RIXS) experiments. The new approach combines the energy dispersion with imaging capabilities. In a collaborative effort with research groups from Göttingen and Hamburg, two new classes of RIXS experiments, energy mapping and RIXS imaging, have been demonstrated.

9 August 2017

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Single-shot Monitoring of Ultrafast Processes via X-ray Streaking at a Free Electron Laser

The advent of x-ray free electron lasers has extended the unique capabilities of resonant x-ray spectroscopy techniques to ultrafast time scales. Here, in collaboration between researchers from PSI, Sorbonne Universités, HASYLAB/DESY, Synchrotron SOLEIL, CNRS, and Uppsala University, we report on a novel experimental method that allows retrieving with a single x-ray pulse the time evolution of an ultrafast process, not only at a few discrete time delays, but continuously over an extended time window.

9 March 2017

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Interlaced zone plates push the resolution limit in x-ray microscopy

A novel type of diffractive lenses based on interlaced structures enable x-ray imaging at resolutions below 10 nm. The fabrication method and the test results of these novel x-ray lenses have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.


For references see: List of Publications

Research Topics

Diffractive X-ray Lenses
    • Electroplated Zone Plates and Beam Shapers
    • Ultra-high Resolution Zone Plates
    • Double-Sided Zone Plates
    • Blazed X-ray Optics
    • Zernike X-ray Phase Contrast Microscopy

Grating-based X-ray Interferometry
    • Differential Phase Contrast and Dark-Field Imaging
    • Metrology Applications at Synchrotrons and XFELs
    • Grating Fabrication

Diamond X-ray Optics for XFEL Experiments
    • Diamond Zone Plates for XFELs
    • Beam Splitter Gratings for Spectral Monitoring
    • Ultra-Fast Pump-Probe Experiments