Ultrafast x-ray science at the Advanced Light Source
Our scientific understanding of the static or time-averaged structure of condensed matter on the atomic scale has been dramatically advanced by direct structural measurements using x-ray techniques and modern synchrotron sources. Of course the structure of condensed matter is not static, and to understanding the behavior of condensed matter at the most fundamental level requires structural measurements on the time scale on which atoms move. The evolution of condensed-matter structure, via the making and breaking of chemical bonds and the rearrangement of atoms, occurs on the fundamental time scale of a vibrational period, ~;100 fs. Atomic motion and structural dynamics on this time scale ultimately determine the course of phase transitions in solids, the kinetic pathways of chemical reactions, and even the efficiency and function of biological processes. The integration of x-ray measurement techniques, a high-brightness femtosecond x-ray source, femtosecond lasers, and stroboscopic pump-probe techniques will provide the unique capability to address fundamental scientific questions in solid-state physics, chemistry, AMO physics, and biology involving structural dynamics. In this paper, we review recent work in ultrafast x-ray science at the ALS including time-resolved diffraction measurements and efforts to develop dedicated beamlines for femtosecond x-ray experiments.