We performed what we believe are the first practical full-temporal-characterization measurements of ultrashort pulses from a free-electron laser (FEL). Second-harmonic-generation frequency-resolved optical gating (FROG) was used to measure a train of mid-IR pulses distorted by a saturated water-vapor absorption line and showing free-induction decay. The measured direction of time was unambiguous because of prior knowledge regarding free-induction decay. These measurements require only 10% of the power of the laser beam and demonstrate that FROG can be implemented as a pulse diagnostic simultaneously with other experiments on a FEL.
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