Ultra-fast and ultra-intense x-ray sciences: first results from the Linac Coherent Light Source free-electron laser
X-ray free-electron lasers (FELs) produce femtosecond x-ray pulses with unprecedented intensities that are uniquely suited for studying many phenomena in atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics. A compilation of the current developments at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) and future plans for the LCLS-II and Next Generation Light Source (NGLS) are outlined. The AMO instrumentation at LCLS and its performance parameters are summarized. A few selected experiments representing the rapidly developing field of ultra-fast and peak intensity x-ray AMO sciences are discussed. These examples include fundamental aspects of intense x-ray interaction with atoms, nonlinear atomic physics in the x-ray regime, double core-hole spectroscopy, quantum control experiments with FELs and ultra-fast x-ray induced dynamics in clusters. These experiments illustrate the fundamental aspects of the interaction of intense short pulses of x-rays with atoms, molecules and clusters that are probed by electron and ion spectroscopies as well as ultra-fast x-ray scattering.