Lecture: "How X-Ray Free Electron Lasers Have Transformed Our Approach Towards Understanding The Structure and Properties of Matter"

Professor Siegfried Glenzer
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University
California, USA



26 June 2024, 12:30 
Auditorium 011, Engineering Classroom Building 

Professor Siegfried Glenzer is a ​2023/2024 Fulbright-TAU Senior Scholar of the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler Institute of Advanced Studies.



With the advent of high peak brightness X-ray sources at the Linac Coherent Light Source and at the National Ignition Facility, we are now in the position to study some of the most extreme conditions of matter found in the universe. Specifically, our experiments probe dense compressed matter with densities and temperatures found in the interiors of giant planets and dwarf stars [1- 3]. In particular, the pressure and temperature conditions at which precipitation of diamond occurs from hydro-carbon mixtures is important for modeling the interior dynamics of icy planets. However, there is substantial disagreement from laboratory experiments, with those using dynamic compression techniques finding much more extreme conditions are required than in static compression. We have recently resolved this controversy [4] through time-resolved observations of diamond formation from statically compressed polystyrene, (C8H8)n, heated using the 4.5 MHz X-ray pulse trains at the European X-ray Free Electron Laser facility. Diamond formation is observed at conditions representative of Uranus and Neptune’s shallow interiors, on 30 to 40 μs timescales. This is much slower than previously observed during the ∼10 ns duration of typical dynamic compression experiments revealing reaction kinetics to be the reason for the discrepancy. Reduced pressure and temperature conditions of diamond formation have implications for icy planetary interiors, where diamond subduction lead to heating and could drive convection in the conductive ice layer which plays a role in their magnetic fields. I will review these and other recent discoveries in physics and material science that exploit the new X-ray scattering facilities that offer unprecedented temporal, spatial, and energy resolution.

Figure 1. An artist’s visualization of diamond formation under laser-driven shock compression. In the work described in Ref. [3], the formation kinetics was enhanced by the presence of oxygen producing diamonds and water from PET (C10H8O4)n which is stoichiometrically a mixture of carbon and H2O. Credit: G. Stewart, SLAC.
[1]    D. Kraus et al., Nature Astronomy (2017).
[2]    S. Frydrych et al., Nature Comm. (2020).
[3]    Z. He et al., Science Advances (2022).
[4]    M. Frost, A. Goncharov, Nature Astronomy (2024).

Speaker supported by the Fulbright foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. DOE under Grants No. FWP 100182, No. DE-SC 0024882:IFE-STAR.


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