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Plasma-based x-ray lasers allow single-shot nano-scale imaging and other experiments requiring a large number of photons per pulse to be conducted in compact facilities. However, compact repetitively fired gain-saturated x-ray lasers have been limited to wavelengths above λ 8.85 nm. Here we extend their range to λ 6.85 nm by transient traveling wave excitation of Ni-like Gd ions in a plasma created with an optimized pre-pulse followed by rapid heating with an intense sub-picosecond pump pulse.doi:10.1364/optica.5.000257 fatcat:qpobwohckjhsna5zci6f7rmoii