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Ultrafast X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy of Isochorically Heated Warm Dense Matter


This dissertation will present a series of new tools, together with new techniques, focused on the understanding of warm and dense matter. We report on the development of a high time resolution and high detection efficiency x-ray camera. The camera is integrated with a short pulse laser and an x-ray beamline at the Advanced Light Source synchrotron. This provides an instrument for single shot, broadband x-ray absorption spectroscopy of warm and dense matter with 2 picosecond time resolution. Warm and dense matter is created by isochorically heating samples of known density with an ultrafast optical laser pulse, and X-ray absorption spectroscopy probes the unoccupied electronic density of states before the onset of hydrodynamic expansion and electron-ion equilibrium is reached. Measured spectra from a variety of materials are compared with first principle molecular dynamics and density functional theory calculations.

In heated silicon dioxide spectra, two novel pre-edge features are observed, a peak below the band gap and absorption within the band gap, while a reduction was observed in the features above the edge. From consideration of the calculated spectra, the peak below the gap is attributed to valence electrons that have been promoted to the conduction band, the absorption within the gap is attributed to broken Si-O bonds, and the reduction above the edge is attributed to an elevated ionic temperature.

In heated copper spectra, a time-dependent shift and broadening of the absorption edge are observed, consistent with and elevated electron temperature. The temporal evolution of the electronic temperature is accurately determined by fitting the measured spectra with calculated spectra. The electron-ion equilibration is studied with a two-temperature model.

In heated nickel spectra, a shift of the absorption edge is observed. This shift is found to be inconsistent with calculated spectra and independent of incident laser fluence. A shift of the chemical potential is applied to the calculated spectra to obtain satisfactory agreement with measured spectra.

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