The European Physical Journal Special Topics

, Volume 222, Issue 5, pp 1093–1123 | Cite as

Ultrafast structural dynamics with table top femtosecond hard X-ray and electron diffraction setups

  • M. Hada
  • K. Pichugin
  • G. Sciaini
Review Structural and Magnetic Transformations


The following tutorial review is directed to graduate students willing to be part of the emerging field of ultrafast structural dynamics. It provides them with an introduction to the field and all the very basic assumptions and experimental tricks involved in femtosecond (fs) diffraction techniques. The concept of stroboscopic photography and its implication in ultrafast science are introduced. Special attention is paid to the generation of ultrashort electron and hard X-ray pulses in table top setups, and a direct comparison in terms of brightness and temporal resolution between current table top and facility-based methodologies is given for proper calibration. This review is focused on ultrafast X-ray and electron diffraction techniques. The progress in the development of fs-structural probes during the last twenty years has been tremendous. Current ultrafast structural probes provide us with the temporal and spatial resolutions required to observe atoms in motion. Different compression approaches have made it possible the generation of ultrashort and ultrabright electron pulses with an effective brightness close to that of fs-hard X-ray pulses produced by free electron lasers. We now have in hand a variety of ultrafast structural cameras ready to be applied for the study of an endless list of dynamical phenomena at the atomic level of inspection.


European Physical Journal Special Topic Optical Pulse Probe Pulse Electron Pulse Free Electron Laser 
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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences and Springer 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Research Department for Structural Dynamics, Center for Free Electron Laser Science and Department of PhysicsUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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