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Strongly aligned gas-phase molecules at free-electron lasers.


Boll,  R.
Research Group of Structural Dynamics of (Bio)Chemical Systems, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Kierspel, T., Wiese, J., Mullins, T., Robinson, J., Aquila, A., Barty, A., et al. (2015). Strongly aligned gas-phase molecules at free-electron lasers. Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, 48(20): 204002. doi:10.1088/0953-4075/48/20/204002.

We demonstrate a novel experimental implementation to strongly align molecules at full repetition rates of free-electron lasers. We utilized the available in-house laser system at the coherent x-ray imaging beamline at the linac coherent light source. Chirped laser pulses, i.e., the direct output from the regenerative amplifier of the Ti:Sa chirped pulse amplification laser system, were used to strongly align 2, 5-diiodothiophene molecules in a molecular beam. The alignment laser pulses had pulse energies of a few mJ and a pulse duration of 94 ps. A degree of alignment of $\langle {\mathrm{cos}}^{2}{\theta }_{2{\rm{D}}}\rangle =0.85$ was measured, limited by the intrinsic temperature of the molecular beam rather than by the available laser system. With the general availability of synchronized chirped-pulse-amplified near-infrared laser systems at short-wavelength laser facilities, our approach allows for the universal preparation of molecules tightly fixed in space for experiments with x-ray pulses.