Research at modern light sources continues to improve our knowledge of the natural world, from the subtle workings of life to matter under extreme conditions. Free-electron lasers, for instance, have enabled the characterization of biomolecular structures with sub-angstrom spatial resolution, and paved the way to controlling the molecular functions. On the other hand, attosecond temporal resolution is necessary to broaden our scope of the ultrafast world. Here we discuss attosecond pulse generation beyond present capabilities. Furthermore, we review three recently proposed methods of generating attosecond x-ray pulses. These novel methods exploit the coherent radiation of microbunched electrons in undulators and the tailoring of the emitted wavefronts. The computed pulse energy outperforms pre-existing technologies by three orders of magnitude. Specifically, our simulations of the proposed Soft X-ray Laser at MAX IV (Lund, Sweden) show that a pulse duration of 50-100 as and a pulse energy up to 5 μJ is feasible with the novel methods. In addition, the methods feature pulse shape control, enable the incorporation of orbital angular momentum, and can be used in combination with modern compact free-electron laser setups.
- free-electron lasers
- mode locking
- undulator radiation
- UV and X-Ray lasers
- ultrafast optics
- charge migration in molecules
- attosecond pump-probe capabilities