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Technologies for Nanoscale Imaging Using Coherent Extreme Ultraviolet and Soft X-Ray Light

Description:

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Sensors

OBJECTIVE:  To explore next-generation nanoscale dynamic imaging microscope technologies employing Coherent Diffractive Imaging combined with a tabletop-scale coherent EUV/ soft x-ray sources.

DESCRIPTION:  Intense femtosecond laser pulses propagating through gases can generate, through a process known as high harmonic generation, coherent extreme ultraviolet and x-ray radiation.  Recent advances in phase matching of the generating pulse with a desired high harmonic wavelength have demonstrated useful outputs up to 1 kev x-rays, with 10 kev or more possible.  Recent work has also demonstrated that Coherent Diffractive Imaging  [1] can be used in conjunction with ultrafast, tabletop-scale short-wavelength light sources based on high harmonic generation to achieve record (~ 20 nm) resolution for full-field optical imaging[2,3]. Further advances to sub-10-nm resolution, as well as the possibility for three-dimensional imaging [4], make this a promising technique.  This topic seeks to advance this technology to develop an optimized, compact, stand-alone, coherent diffractive imaging microscope for applications in: 1) nanotechnology (mask inspection and nanostructure imaging for next generation electronics and data storage devices) in both transmission and reflection-mode; 2) bio-imaging of whole cells in 3D without sectioning and staining, but with the inherent elemental contrast of x-rays; 3) Understanding the function of interfaces relevant to catalysis and energy.  Further advances depend primarily on improving the capabilities of the high harmonic illumination source[5].  In particular, optimized high harmonic sources are needed with well-controlled and adjustable bandwidth for 3D image extraction, and for the generation of fully spatially coherent, low scatter, beams at photon energy 40-500 eV for nano-imaging, and in the water window (270-570 eV) for bio-imaging and interface studies.

PHASE I:  Phase I will develop an engineering design for an imaging instrument that will have maximum flexibility of operation from 40-570eV.  The imaging system will need adjustability in wavelength and in power.  Feasibility of a working imaging system will be demonstrated.

PHASE II:  Phase II will produce a working prototype capable of imaging a wide range of samples.  A high speed data processor will need to be designed for fast retrieval of 3D images.

PHASE III DUAL USE COMMERCIALIZATION:

Military Application:  The full instrument will be important for the military for imaging of nano-scale objects arising from nano-tech weapons, bio-agents, and battlefield medicine.

Commercial Application:  In the commercial sector, new nano-imaging modalities will be enabled, for understanding and inspection, for example for medical, micro-systems, and non destructive evaluation.

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