A compact laboratory transmission X-ray microscope for the water window
In the water window (2.2-4.4 nm) the attenuation of radiation in water is significantly smaller than in organic material. Therefore, intact biological specimen (e.g. cells) can be investigated in their natural environment. In order to make this technique accessible to users in a laboratory environment a Full-Field Laboratory Transmission X-ray Microscope (L-TXM) has been developed. The L-TXM is operated with a nitrogen laser plasma source employing an InnoSlab high power laser system for plasma generation. For microscopy the Ly α emission of highly ionized nitrogen at 2.48 nm is used. A laser plasma brightness of 5 × 1011 photons/(s × sr × μm2 in line at 2.48 nm) at a laser power of 70 W is demonstrated. In combination with a state-of-the-art Cr/V multilayer condenser mirror the sample is illuminated with 106 photons/(μm2 × s). Using objective zone plates 35-40 nm lines can be resolved with exposure times < 60 s. The exposure time can be further reduced to 20 s by the use of new multilayer condenser optics and operating the laser at its full power of 130 W. These exposure times enable cryo tomography in a laboratory environment.