PHYC40930 Ultrafast Soft X-ray Photonics

Academic Year 2023/2024

The module is organized in two parts:

The first part delivers a brief recap of laser theory, including the generation of ultra-fast laser pulses in the femto and attosecond regime. It will then introduce non-linear optics, second and higher harmonic generation, non-linear mixing and experimental techniques such as pump and probe, optical parametric oscillators and up- and down conversion. This is followed by methods to measure ultra-fast pulses: autocorrelation, frequency resolved optical gating and related imaging techniques.

The second part of the module provides an overview and develops understanding of the state-of-the-art in soft x-ray light sources. In the spectral region from 1 - 100 nm electromagnetic radiation interacts very strongly with matter. The module explores the main principles, and experimental realisation, of methods to generate intense sources at these wavelengths and their key applications as a tool for fabricating, probing and characterising matter - including SXR light for nanoprocessing and imaging nanostructures, and the imaging of biological samples in the “water window”.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

The module will provide an in-depth understanding of ultra-fast laser pulse generation and will provide a solid foundation of light-matter interactions at such time scales. The students will be able to explain non-linear optics and the required experimental techniques to measure ultra-fast events in physics, including higher harmonics, pump and probe, autocorrelation and frequency resolved optical gating.
You will be able to explain the interaction of soft x-ray radiation with matter, both qualitatively and quantitatively. You will develop an understanding of the properties, and calculate key parameters, of various SXR sources, such as plasma-based sources, soft x-ray lasers, free electron lasers and attosecond pulse generated from high harmonics. This will allow you to analyse the principles, design and operation of modern SXR optical systems, and critically discuss fabrication, metrology and imaging in the soft x-ray region.

Indicative Module Content:

Components of course:
Ultra-fast pulse generation
Non-linear optics
Scattering by single free/bound and multi-bound electrons
Multilayer and zone plate optics

HHG and attosecond pulse generation
Pump and Probe

SXR source based on laser produced and discharge produced plasmas
Soft x-ray lasers

EUV litho, metrology and inspection
Imaging and microscopy
Photoemission microscopy

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; peer and group work; homework; written examination 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Number of graded homework problems Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: End of semester written examination 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

1. Class feedback post assessment is provided including in-class tutorials with solutions. 2. Individual feedback is provided via corrected homework with detailed written feedback. 3. Preparation provided to students prior examination (e.g. via tutorials and "worked examples").

Name Role
Dr Patrick Hayden Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Thurs 10:00 - 11:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 12:00 - 12:50