Measurements of long-range electronic correlations during femtosecond diffraction experiments performed on nanocrystals of Buckminsterfullerene (2017)
The precise details of the interaction of intense X-ray pulses with matter are a topic of intense interest to researchers attempting to interpret the results of femtosecond X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) experiments. An increasing number of experimental observations have shown that although nuclear motion can be negligible, given a short enough incident pulse duration, electronic motion cannot be ignored. The current and widely accepted models assume that although electrons undergo dynamics driven by interaction with the pulse, their motion could largely be considered ‘random’. This would then allow the supposedly incoherent contribution from the electronic motion to be treated as a continuous background signal and thus ignored. The original aim of our experiment was to precisely measure the change in intensity of individual Bragg peaks, due to X-ray induced electronic damage in a model system, crystalline C60. Contrary to this expectation, we observed that at the highest X-ray intensities, the electron dynamics in C60 were in fact highly correlated, and over sufficiently long distances that the positions of the Bragg reflections are significantly altered. This paper describes in detail the methods and protocols used for these experiments, which were conducted both at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) and the Australian Synchrotron (AS) as well as the crystallographic approaches used to analyse the data.