Research ArticlePHYSICS

High-flux soft x-ray harmonic generation from ionization-shaped few-cycle laser pulses

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Science Advances  11 May 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 5, eaar3761
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3761


Laser-driven high-harmonic generation provides the only demonstrated route to generating stable, tabletop attosecond x-ray pulses but has low flux compared to other x-ray technologies. We show that high-harmonic generation can produce higher photon energies and flux by using higher laser intensities than are typical, strongly ionizing the medium and creating plasma that reshapes the driving laser field. We obtain high harmonics capable of supporting attosecond pulses up to photon energies of 600 eV and a photon flux inside the water window (284 to 540 eV) in line with state-of-the-art attosecond sources. We demonstrate that operating in this regime is key for attosecond pulse generation in the x-ray range and will become increasingly important as harmonic generation moves to even longer-wavelength driving fields.

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