Indexed on: 03 Jan '15Published on: 03 Jan '15Published in: Physical review letters
We present an extended Monte Carlo rate equation approach to examine the inner-shell ionization dynamics of atoms in an intense x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) pulse. In addition to photoionization, Auger decay, and fluorescence processes, we include bound-to-bound transitions in the rate equation calculations. Using an efficient computational scheme, we account for "hidden resonances" unveiled during the course of an XFEL pulse. For Ar, the number of possible electron configurations is increased ten-billion-fold over that required under nonresonant conditions. We investigated the complex ionization dynamics of Ar atoms exposed to an 480-eV XFEL pulse, where production of ions above charge state 10+ is not allowed via direct one-photon ionization. We found that resonance-enhanced x-ray multiple ionization pathways play a dominant role in producing these nominally inaccessible charge states. Our calculated results agree with the measured Ar ion yield and pulse-duration dependence. We also predict the surprising ion yields reported earlier for Kr and Xe. The Monte Carlo rate equation method enables theoretical exploration of the complex dynamics of resonant high-intensity x-ray processes.