The conical diffraction mounting in which the direction of incident light belongs to a plane parallel to the direction of the grooves has the unique property of maintaining high diffraction efficiency, even in the extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) region. This property is useful for designing high-throughput time-delay-compensated monochromators for the spectral selection of ultrashort EUV pulses as the high-order harmonics generated by the interaction between an ultrashort laser pulse and a gas jet. The time compensation allows one to exploit the femtosecond scale duration of the harmonics both to have high intensity and to reach an unprecedented temporal resolution for pump and probe experiments. Because two gratings have to be used for time compensation, the high diffraction efficiency becomes an essential requirement, which can be fulfilled by the conical diffraction mounting. Measurements recently accomplished at the Bending Magnet for Emission Absorption and Reflectivity (BEAR) beam line (ELETTRA Synchrotron, Trieste, Italy) for three gratings in the region are reported here that show a peak efficiency of as much as 0.7 in the first order. A model computing the electromagnetic propagation and the grating efficiency, implemented and tested with the experimental data, permits the study and design of rather complex systems operating in the conical mounting. Basic physical principles and mathematical aspects of the model are discussed here.
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