X-ray scattering is typically used as a weak linear atomic-scale probe of matter. At high intensities, such as produced at free-electron lasers, nonlinearities can become important, and the probe may no longer be considered weak. Here we report the observation of one of the most fundamental nonlinear X-ray-matter interactions: the concerted nonlinear Compton scattering of two identical hard X-ray photons producing a single higher-energy photon. The X-ray intensity reached 4×10 20 W cm 2, corresponding to an electric field well above the atomic unit of strength and within almost four orders of magnitude of the quantum-electrodynamic critical field. We measure a signal from solid beryllium that scales quadratically in intensity, consistent with simultaneous non-resonant two-photon scattering from nearly-free electrons. The high-energy photons show an anomalously large redshift that is incompatible with a free-electron approximation for the ground-state electron distribution, suggesting an enhanced nonlinearity for scattering at large momentum transfer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Physics and Astronomy