An international team of scientists has found evidence of an unconventional 'non-thermal' melting process in diamond induced by an intense X-ray free-electron laser beam. While in conventional melting the heated atoms of a sample start moving stronger and stronger until the interatomic bonds break, the intense X-ray laser flashes can excite so many electrons that this reorganizes the interatomic potential on femtosecond timescale (10^-15 s) and breaks the bonds between carbon atoms apart straight away. The scientists around Ichiro Inoue from the RIKEN SPring-8 Center in Japan, Eiji Nishibori from University of Tsukuba in Japan and DESY & INP PAS scientist Beata Ziaja have recently reported their observations on X-ray induced ultrafast melting of diamond in the journal Physical Review Letters.
"Atomic-scale visualization of ultrafast bond breaking in X-ray-excited diamond",
I. Inoue et al.,
Physical Review Letters (2021)