Bright, high-repetition-rate water window soft X-ray source enabled by nonlinear pulse self-compression in an antiresonant hollow-core fibre
Bright, coherent soft X-ray radiation is essential to a variety of applications in fundamental research and life sciences. To date, a high photon flux in this spectral region can only be delivered by synchrotrons, free-electron lasers or high-order harmonic generation sources, which are driven by kHz-class repetition rate lasers with very high peak powers. Here, we establish a novel route toward powerful and easy-to-use SXR sources by presenting a compact experiment in which nonlinear pulse self-compression to the few-cycle regime is combined with phase-matched high-order harmonic generation in a single, helium-filled antiresonant hollow-core fibre. This enables the first 100 kHz-class repetition rate, table-top soft X-ray source that delivers an application-relevant flux of 2.8 × 106 photon s−1 eV−1 around 300 eV. The fibre integration of temporal pulse self-compression (leading to the formation of the necessary strong-field waveforms) and pressure-controlled phase matching will allow compact, high-repetition-rate laser technology, including commercially available systems, to drive simple and cost-effective, coherent high-flux soft X-ray sources.