Soft x-ray microscopy
Pulsed x-rays are employed for many innovative applications ranging from structural analysis in biology and life sciences to the investigation of fundamental mechanisms of interaction with matter. Intense x-ray pulses allow, for example, tomographic images of the inside of cells or the structure determination of macromolecules with a spatial resolution on the nanometer scale. However, due to the lack of appropriate lab-scale radiation sources such studies are currently conducted at synchrotron or free-electron lasers exclusively.
Within the framework of the SFB 755 "Nanoscale Photonic Imaging" a compact laboratory x-ray microscope is developed for the "water window" spectral range (λ = 2.2 nm ... 4.4 nm). A laser plasma generated in a short-pulsed gas jet is focused by a condenser mirror onto a sample, which is then imaged by a Fresnel zone plate onto a camera at high magnification. Using nitrogen as target gas (emission wavelength 2.88 nm), we have demonstrated a spatial resolution of about 50 nm.
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