Attosecond-Angstrom free-electron-laser towards the cold beam limit

A. F. Habib, G.G. Manahan, P. Scherkl, T. Heinemann, A. Sutherland, R. Altuiri, B. M. Alotaibi, M. Litos, J. Cary, T. Raubenheimer, E. Hemsing, M. Hogan, J. B. Rosenzweig, P. H. Williams, B. W. J. McNeil, B. Hidding

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Electron beam quality is paramount for X-ray pulse production in free-electron-lasers (FELs). State-of-the-art linear accelerators (linacs) can deliver multi-GeV electron beams with sufficient quality for hard X-ray-FELs, albeit requiring km-scale setups, whereas plasma-based accelerators can produce multi-GeV electron beams on metre-scale distances, and begin to reach beam qualities sufficient for EUV FELs. Here we show, that electron beams from plasma photocathodes many orders of magnitude brighter than state-of-the-art can be generated in plasma wakefield accelerators (PWFAs), and then extracted, captured, transported and injected into undulators without significant quality loss. These ultrabright, sub-femtosecond electron beams can drive hard X-FELs near the cold beam limit to generate coherent X-ray pulses of attosecond-Angstrom class, reaching saturation after only 10 metres of undulator. This plasma-X-FEL opens pathways for advanced photon science capabilities, such as unperturbed observation of electronic motion inside atoms at their natural time and length scale, and towards higher photon energies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1054
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2023


  • Attosecond-Angstrom free-electron-laser
  • cold beam limit
  • electro beam quality


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