The use of a Hartmann wave-front sensor to accurately measure the line-integrated electron density gradients formed in laser-produced and z-pinch plasma experiments is examined. This wave-front sensor may be used with a soft-x-ray laser as well as with incoherent line emission at multikilovolt x-ray energies. This diagnostic is significantly easier to use than interferometery and moiré deflectometry, both of which have been demonstrated with soft-x-ray lasers. This scheme is experimentally demonstrated in the visible region by use of a Shack–Hartmann wave-front sensor and a liquid-crystal spatial light modulator to simulate a phase profile that could occur when an x-ray probe passes through a plasma. The merits of using a Hartmann sensor include a wide dynamic range, broadband or low-coherence-length light capability, high x-ray efficiency, two-dimensional gradient determination, multiplexing capability, and experimental simplicity. Hartmann sensors could also be utilized for wavelength testing of extreme-ultraviolet lithography components and x-ray phase imaging of biological specimens.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
K. L. Baker, J. Brase, M. Kartz, S. S. Olivier, B. Sawvel, and J. Tucker, "Electron density characterization by use of a broadband x-ray-compatible wave-front sensor," Opt. Lett. 28, 149-151 (2003)