The transient nanoscale dynamics of materials on femtosecond to picosecond timescales is of great interest in the study of condensed phase dynamics such as crack formation, phase separation and nucleation, and rapid fluctuations in the liquid state or in biologically relevant environments. The ability to take images in a single shot is the key to studying non-repetitive behaviour mechanisms, a capability that is of great importance in many of these problems. Using coherent diffraction imaging with femtosecond X-ray free-electron-laser pulses we capture time-series snapshots of a solid as it evolves on the ultrafast timescale. Artificial structures imprinted on a Si 3 N 4 window are excited with an optical laser and undergo laser ablation, which is imaged with a spatial resolution of 50nm and a temporal resolution of 10ps. By using the shortest available free-electron-laser wavelengths and proven synchronization methods this technique could be extended to spatial resolutions of a few nanometres and temporal resolutions of a few tens of femtoseconds. This experiment opens the door to a new regime of time-resolved experiments in mesoscopic dynamics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics