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Ultrafast Electron Diffraction Reveals Laser Melting

Photonics Spectra
Dec 2003
Scientists at the University of Toronto have employed femtosecond electron diffraction to study the ultrafast melting of aluminum under illumination by 120-fs pulses of near-IR laser radiation. The electron technique promises to enable investigations into photoinduced dynamics, with applications in condensed-phase processes, surface chemistry and time-resolved

In the work, the researchers collected transmission electron diffraction measurements on 20-nm-thick films of polycrystalline aluminum that were exposed to pulses of 775-nm laser radiation at a fluence of 70 mJ/cm2. A 30-keV electron gun produced the 600-fs probe pulses, and a CCD camera imaged at 500-fs intervals the diffraction patterns that were generated on a microchannel plate/phosphor screen. By 3.5 ps into the experiment, the diffraction pattern had changed from a series of rings indicative of the face-centered cubic structure of the solid material to a single, broad ring characteristic of a liquid.

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