Ultrafast soft X-ray scattering and reference-enhanced diffractive imaging of weakly scattering nanoparticles

Sébastien Boutet, Michael J. Bogan, Anton Barty, Matthias Frank, W. Henry Benner, Stefano Marchesini, M. Marvin Seibert, Janos Hajdu, Henry N. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We report the first successful reconstruction of the real space image from coherent X-ray diffraction patterns of membrane-supported nanoparticles using single ultrafast pulses. The particles consisted of 145-nm spherical polystyrene spheres that were size-selected by differential mobility analysis. We investigated the dependence of signal intensity on the number of spherical nanoparticles irradiated by single ultrafast pulses at the FLASH FEL facility. We demonstrate detection of as few as two 145-nm diameter particles irradiated by a single 32 nm fs-long FLASH pulse focused to 2.4 J cm-2. In this case the noise in the diffraction pattern, due to photon-counting statistics and scattering from the supporting silicon nitride membrane, was the largest contributor to the recorded intensity. We were able to reconstruct high-resolution images of the nanoparticles using a strong scattering reference object to aid the phase retrieval of the coherent diffraction pattern. This method of reference-enhanced diffractive imaging may allow the imaging of weakly scattering objects at FLASH and other future X-ray FEL sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-73
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena
Issue number1-3 C
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Soft-X-ray free-electron-laser
  • Spherical nanoparticles
  • X-ray diffractive imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Radiation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultrafast soft X-ray scattering and reference-enhanced diffractive imaging of weakly scattering nanoparticles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this