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Fattahi, Hanieh (2016): Sub-cycle light transients for attosecond, X-ray, four-dimensional imaging. In: Contemporary Physics, Vol. 57, No. 4: pp. 580-595

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This paper reviews the revolutionary development of ultra-short, multi-TW laser pulse generation made possible by current laser technology. The design of the unified laser architecture discussed in this paper, based on the synthesis of ultrabroadband optical parametric chirped-pulse amplifiers, promises to provide powerful light transients with electromagnetic forces engineerable on the electron time scale. By coherent combination of multiple amplifiers operating in different wavelength ranges, pulses with wavelength spectra extending from less than 1m to more than 10m, with sub-cycle duration at unprecedented peak and average power levels can be generated. It is shown theoretically that these light transients enable the efficient generation of attosecond X-ray pulses with photon flux sufficient to image, for the first time, picometre-attosecond trajectories of electrons, by means of X-ray diffraction and record the electron dynamics by attosecond spectroscopy. The proposed system leads to a tool with sub-atomic spatio-temporal resolution for studying different processes deep inside matter.

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