Ultrafast x-ray scattering of xenon nanoparticles: imaging transient states of matter

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 Mar 2;108(9):093401. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.093401. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


Femtosecond x-ray laser flashes with power densities of up to 10(14) W/cm(2) at 13.7 nm wavelength were scattered by single xenon clusters in the gas phase. Similar to light scattering from atmospheric microparticles, the x-ray diffraction patterns carry information about the optical constants of the objects. However, the high flux of the x-ray laser induces severe transient changes of the electronic configuration, resulting in a tenfold increase of absorption in the developing nanoplasma. The modification in opaqueness can be correlated to strong atomic charging of the particle leading to excitation of Xe(4+). It is shown that single-shot single-particle scattering on femtosecond time scales yields insight into ultrafast processes in highly excited systems where conventional spectroscopy techniques are inherently blind.