Phase-mapping of periodically domain-inverted LiNbO sub 3 with coherent X-rays

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Abstract

A varying refractive index across a wavefront leads to a change in the direction of propagation of the wave [1,2].This provides the basis for phase-contrast imaging of transparent or weakly absorbing materials with highly coherent X-ray beams [3,4]. Lattice distortions can also change the direction of propagation of a wave field diffracted from a crystal. Here we report the use of this principle to effect phase-contrast imaging of the domain structure of a ferroelectric material, lithium niobate. A periodically domain-inverted structure for quasi-phase-matching of second-harmonic generation is created in this material, in which the direction of spontaneous polarization is sequentially inverted. Because of complex interactions during domain-inversion processing, this is accompanied by lattice distortions across the domain walls. These distortions split the diffracted wavefront of a beam of coherent X-rays from an advanced synchrotron source, giving rise to a pattern of interference that reflects the underlying pattern of lattice distortions. These results show that this phase-contrast imaging technique with sub-micrometre spatial resolution permits the non-destructive, highly sensitive phase-mapping of various structural defects and distortions introduced into material during processing.

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