Ultrafast nonthermal heating of water initiated by an X-ray Free-Electron Laser

Kenneth R. Beyerlein, H. Olof Jönsson, Roberto Alonso-Mori, Andrew Aquila, Saša Bajt, Anton Barty, Richard Bean, Jason E. Koglin, Marc Messerschmidt, Davide Ragazzon, Dimosthenis Sokaras, Garth J. Williams, Stefan Hau-Riege, Sébastien Boutet, Henry N. Chapman, Nicuşor Tîmneanu, Carl Caleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The bright ultrafast pulses of X-ray Free-Electron Lasers allow investigation into the structure of matter under extreme conditions. We have used single pulses to ionize and probe water as it undergoes a phase transition from liquid to plasma. We report changes in the structure of liquid water on a femtosecond time scale when irradiated by single 6.86 keV X-ray pulses of more than 106 J/cm2. These observations are supported by simulations based on molecular dynamics and plasma dynamics of a water system that is rapidly ionized and driven out of equilibrium. This exotic ionic and disordered state with the density of a liquid is suggested to be structurally different from a neutral thermally disordered state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5652-5657
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 29 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Molecular dynamics
  • Non-local thermodynamics equilibrium
  • Serial Femtosecond Crystallography
  • Ultrafast phase transition
  • X-ray Free-Electron Laser

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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