Radiation with shorter illumination wavelength allows for extension of the diffraction limit towards nanometer scale, which is a straightforward way to significantly improve a spatial resolution in photon based microscopes. Soft X-ray (SXR) radiation, from the so called ”water window” spectral range, λ=2.3-4.4 nm, which is particularly suitable for biological imaging due to natural optical contrast, providing much better spatial resolution than one obtained with visible light microscopes. The high contrast is obtained because of selective absorption of radiation by carbon and water, being constituents of the biological samples. <p> </p>We present a desk-top system, capable of resolving 60 nm features in few seconds exposure time. We exploit the advantages of a compact, laser-plasma SXR source, based on a double stream nitrogen gas puff target, developed at the Institute of Optoelectronics, Military University of Technology. The source, emitting quasi-monochromatic, incoherent radiation, in the “water widow” spectral range at λ = 2.88 nm, is coupled with ellipsoidal, grazing incidence condenser and Fresnel zone plate objective. The construction of the microscope with some recent images of test and real samples will be presented and discussed.
Laser plasma sources of soft x-rays and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) developed in our laboratory for application in various areas of technology and science are presented. The sources are based on a laser-irradiated gas puff target approach. The targets formed by pulsed injection of gas under high-pressure are irradiated with nanosecond laser pulses from Nd:YAG lasers. We use commercial lasers generating pulses with time duration from 1ns to 10ns and energies from 0.5J to 10J at 10Hz repetition rate. The gas puff targets are produced using a double valve system equipped with a special nozzle to form a double-stream gas puff target which secures high conversion efficiency without degradation of the nozzle. The use of a gas puff target instead of a solid target makes generation of laser plasmas emitting soft x-rays and EUV possible without target debris production. The sources are equipped with various optical systems, including grazing incidence axisymmetric ellipsoidal mirrors, a “lobster eye” type grazing incidence multi-foil mirror, and an ellipsoidal mirror with Mo/Si multilayer coating, to collect soft x-ray and EUV radiation and form the radiation beams. In this paper new applications of these sources in various fields, including soft x-ray and EUV imaging in nanoscale, EUV radiography and tomography, EUV materials processing and modification of polymer surfaces, EUV photoionization of gases, radiobiology and soft x-ray contact microscopy are reviewed.
The detail characteristics of a compact laser-plasma X-ray source, dedicated for application in soft X-ray contact microscopy is presented in the paper. The source is based on a double-stream gas puff target, irradiated with nanosecond laser pulses from a commercial Nd:YAG laser. The use of the gas puff target makes possible to produce soft X-ray radiation in the “water window” region without target debris production. Details of the characterization measurements and optimization of the source are presented and discussed.
The aim of this work is to design and build a source for a range of applications, with optimized multilayer structures in order to use the source output as efficiently as possible. The source is built around a Nd:YAG laser with fundamental wavelength 1064 nm, frequency doubled 532 nm (green) and tripled 355 nm, with a pulse length of about 800 ps and a repetition rate up to 50 Hz. The target material is Mylar (C<sub>10</sub>H<sub>8</sub>O<sub>4</sub>) tape, which is cheap, readily available and has many benefits as explained in this article. A versatile cubic target chamber and a set of computer controlled stage motors are used to allow positioning of the X-ray emission point. A range of measures is used to protect delicate components and optics, including a glass slide between the focusing lens and the target to prevent the lens being coated with debris. A low pressure gas (typically 3–6 mbar) is used inside the chamber as collision of atomic size debris particles with gas molecules reduces their kinetic energy and consequently their adhesion to the surrounding surfaces. The gas used is typically helium or nitrogen, the latter also acting as a spectral filter. Finally, the chamber is continually pumped to ensure that more than 70% of the debris particles are pumped out of the chamber.