Ultrafast transitions from solid to liquid and plasma states of graphite induced by x-ray free-electron laser pulses

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 May 25;108(21):217402. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.217402. Epub 2012 May 23.


We used photon pulses from an x-ray free-electron laser to study ultrafast x-ray-induced transitions of graphite from solid to liquid and plasma states. This was accomplished by isochoric heating of graphite samples and simultaneous probing via Bragg and diffuse scattering at high time resolution. We observe that disintegration of the crystal lattice and ion heating of up to 5 eV occur within tens of femtoseconds. The threshold fluence for Bragg-peak degradation is smaller and the ion-heating rate is faster than current x-ray-matter interaction models predict.