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Thomas Südmeyer

August 2011

Prof. Thomas Südmeyer (LTF - Universität Neuchâtel) received an ERC Starting Grant for his research on Efficient megahertz coherent XUV light source, PE3, ERC grant 79505 - MEGA-XUV

Coherent extreme ultraviolet (XUV) light sources open up new opportunities for science and technology. Promising examples are attosecond metrology, spectroscopic and structural analysis of matter on a nanometer scale, high resolution XUV-microscopy and lithography. Large-scale accelerator based sources have very limited accessibility, effectively preventing their use for the majority of research projects. The most promising technique for table-top sources is femtosecond laser-driven high-harmonic generation (HHG) in gases. Unfortunately, their XUV photon flux is not sufficient for most applications. This is caused by the low average power of the typical kHz repetition rate driving lasers and the poor conversion efficiency.

The goal of the ERC project MEGA-XUV is the realization of a simpler and more efficient source of high-flux XUV radiation. Instead of amplifying a laser beam and dumping it after the HHG interaction, the generation of high harmonics is placed directly inside the intra-cavity multi-kilowatt beam of a femtosecond laser. Thus, the unconverted light is “recycled”, and the laser medium only needs to compensate for the low losses of the resonator. Achieving passive femtosecond pulse formation at these record-high power levels will require eliminating any destabilizing effects inside the resonator. This appears to be only feasible with ultrafast thin disk lasers, because all key components are used in reflection.

We expect that the developed table-top multi-MHz coherent XUV light source will open up numerous scientific opportunities in various interdisciplinary applications. The developed XUV source will be transportable, thus enabling the fast implementation of joint measurements. The advantages of high flux and increased repetition rates should result in unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio and fast data acquisition time.

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