Electron-photon scattering, or Thomson scattering, is one of the most fundamental mechanisms in electrodynamics, underlying laboratory and astrophysical sources of high-energy X-rays. After a century of studies, it is only recently that sufficiently high electromagnetic field strengths have been available to experimentally study the nonlinear regime of Thomson scattering in the laboratory. Making use of a high-power laser and a laser-driven electron accelerator, we made the first measurements of high-order multiphoton scattering, in which more than 500 near-infrared laser photons were scattered by a single electron into a single X-ray photon. Both the electron motion and the scattered photons were found to depend nonlinearly on field strength. The observed angular distribution of scattered X-rays permits independent measurement of absolute intensity, in situ, during interactions of ultra-intense laser light with free electrons. Furthermore, the experiment's potential to generate attosecond-duration hard X-ray pulses can enable the study of ultrafast nuclear dynamics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics