Dr. Michael Zürch
Abstract: The generation of high order harmonics from femtosecond mid-IR laser pulses in ZnO has shown great potential to reveal new insight into the ultrafast electron dynamics on a few femtosecond timescale. In this work we report on the experimental investigation of photoluminescence and high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in a ZnO single crystal and polycrystalline thin film irradiated with intense femtosecond mid-IR laser pulses. The ellipticity dependence of the HHG process is experimentally studied up to the 17th harmonic order for various driving laser wavelengths in the spectral range 3-4 mu m. Interband Zener tunneling is found to exhibit a significant excitation efficiency drop for circularly polarized strong-field pump pulses. For higher harmonics with energies larger than the bandgap, the measured ellipticity dependence can be quantitatively described by numerical simulations based on the density matrix equations. The ellipticity dependence of the below and above ZnO band gap harmonics as a function of the laser wavelength provides an efficient method for distinguishing the dominant HHG mechanism for different harmonic orders.
Abstract: In this work, we demonstrate a discrete dispersion scan scheme using a low number of flat windows to vary the dispersion of laser pulses in discrete steps. Monte Carlo simulations indicate that the pulse duration can be retrieved accurately with less than 10 dispersion steps, which we verify experimentally by measuring few-cycle pulses and material dispersion curves at 3 and 10 µm wavelength. This minimal measuring scheme using only five optical components without the need for linear positioners and interferometric alignment can be readily implemented in many wavelength ranges and situations.
Abstract: We report the direct wavefront characterization of an intense ultrafast high-harmonic seeded soft X-ray laser at 32.8 nm wavelength and monitor the exit of the laser plasma amplifier depending on the arrival time of the seed pulses with respect to pump pulses. For the wavefront measurement in phase and intensity, we used high-resolution ptychography. After propagating the wavefront back to the source, we are able to observe the rear end of the plasma amplifier. We compare the characteristics of the seeded soft X-ray Laser to an unseeded one and find an increasing beam stability and lateral coherence important for lensless imaging techniques.
Abstract: Imaging of biological specimen is one of the most important tools to investigate structures and functionalities in organic components. Improving the resolution of images into the nanometer range call for short wavelengths light sources and large aperture optics. Subsequently, the use of extreme ultraviolet light in the range of 2 nm to 5 nm provides high contrast and high resolution imaging, if it is combined with lensless imaging techniques. We describe important parameters for high resolution lensless imaging of biological samples and specify the required light source properties. To overcome radiation based damage of biological specimen, we discuss the concept of ghost imaging and describe a possible setup towards biological imaging in the extreme ultraviolet range.
Abstract: We evaluated the capabilities of an intense ultrafast high-harmonic seeded soft X-ray laser at 32.8 nm wavelength regarding single-shot lensless imaging and ptychography. Additionally the wave front at the exit of the laser plasma amplifier is monitored in amplitude and phase using high resolution ptychography and backpropagation techniques.Characterizing the laser plasma amplifier performance depending on the arrival time of the seed pulse with respect to pump pulses provides insight into the light plasma interaction in the soft X-ray range.
Abstract: Ptychography enables coherent diffractive imaging (CDI) of extended samples by raster scanning across the illuminating XUV/X-ray beam, thereby generalizing the unique advantages of CDI techniques. Table- top realizations of this method are urgently needed for many applications in sciences and industry. Previously, it was only possible to image features much larger than the illuminating wavelength with table-top ptychography although knife-edge tests suggested sub-wavelength resolution. However, most real-world imaging applications require resolving of the smallest and closely-spaced features of a sample in an extended field of view. In this work, resolving features as small as 2.5 \lambda (45 nm) using a table-top ptychography setup is demonstrated by employing a high-order harmonic XUV source with record-high photon flux. For the first time, a Rayleigh-type criterion is used as a direct and unambiguous resolution metric for high-resolution table-top setup. This reliably qualifies this imaging system for real-world applications e.g. in biological sciences, material sciences, imaging integrated circuits and semiconductor mask inspection.
Abstract: Time-resolved imaging allows revealing the interaction mechanisms in the microcosm of both inorganic and biological objects. While X-ray microscopy has proven its advantages for resolving objects beyond what can be achieved using optical microscopes, dynamic studies using full-field imaging at the nanometer scale are still in their infancy. In this perspective, we present the current state of the art techniques for full-field imaging in the extreme-ultraviolet- and soft X-ray-regime which are suitable for single exposure applications as they are paramount for studying dynamics in nanoscale systems. We evaluate the performance of currently available table-top sources, with special emphasis on applications, photon flux, and coherence. Examples for applications of single shot imaging in physics, biology, and industrial applications are discussed.
Abstract: Coherent diffraction imaging (CDI) at wavelengths in the extreme ultraviolet range has become an important tool for nanoscale investigations. Employing laser-driven high harmonic sources allows for lab-scale applications such as cancer cell classification and phase-resolved surface studies in reflection geometry. The excellent beam properties support a spatial resolution below the wavelength, i.e., close to the Abbe limit. Unfortunately, the usually low photon flux of HHG sources limits their applicability. Recent advances in ultrafast fiber laser development cumulated in sources delivering average powers approaching the milliwatt level in the extreme ultraviolet. In comparison, a tabletop soft X-ray laser driven by moderate pump energies was recently employed for CDI featuring excellent temporal coherence and extraordinary high flux allowing for single-shot imaging.
Abstract: Ultrafast supercontinuum generation in gas-filled waveguides is an enabling technology for many intriguing applications ranging from attosecond metrology towards biophotonics, with the amount of spectral broadening crucially depending on the pulse dispersion of the propagating mode. In this study, we show that structural resonances in a gas-filled antiresonant hollow core optical fiber provide an additional degree of freedom in dispersion engineering, which enables the generation of more than three octaves of broadband light that ranges from deep UV wavelengths to near infrared. Our observation relies on the introduction of a geometric-induced resonance in the spectral vicinity of the ultrafast pump laser, outperforming gas dispersion and yielding a unique dispersion profile independent of core size, which is highly relevant for scaling input powers. Using a krypton-filled fiber, we observe spectral broadening from 200 nm to 1.7 μm at an output energy of ∼ 23 μJ within a single optical mode across the entire spectral bandwidth. Simulations show that the frequency generation results from an accelerated fission process of soliton-like waveforms in a non-adiabatic dispersion regime associated with the emission of multiple phase-matched Cherenkov radiations on both sides of the resonance. This effect, along with the dispersion tuning and scaling capabilities of the fiber geometry, enables coherent ultra-broadband and high-energy sources, which range from the UV to the mid‐infrared spectral range.
Abstract: Coherent diffraction imaging (CDI) in the extreme ultraviolet has become an important tool for nanoscale investigations. Laser-driven high harmonic generation (HHG) sources allow for lab scale applications such as cancer cell classification and phase-resolved surface studies. HHG sources exhibit excellent coherence but limited photon flux due poor conversion efficiency. In contrast, table-top soft X-ray lasers (SXRL) feature excellent temporal coherence and extraordinary high flux at limited transverse coherence. Here, the performance of a SXRL pumped at moderate pump energies is evaluated for CDI and compared to a HHG source. For CDI, a lower bound for the required mutual coherence factor of |μ12| ≥ 0.75 is found by comparing a reconstruction with fixed support to a conventional characterization using double slits. A comparison of the captured diffraction signals suggests that SXRLs have the potential for imaging micron scale objects with sub-20 nm resolution in orders of magnitude shorter integration time compared to a conventional HHG source. Here, the low transverse coherence diameter limits the resolution to approximately 180 nm. The extraordinary high photon flux per laser shot, scalability towards higher repetition rate and capability of seeding with a high harmonic source opens a route for higher performance nanoscale imaging systems based on SXRLs.