Can we shape an electron wavepacket in space and time? Can we tailor it to probe material properties that are currently inaccessible? Recent work has shown that high-energy electrons (80-200 keV) interacting with strong light fields can absorb or release quantized energy packets equal to the photon energy. This dresses the electron into a superposition state composed of a spectrum of energy-loss and -gain sidebands. Here we exploit this Photon-Induced Near-field Electron Microscopy (PINEM) effect in order to create a revolutionary new method of tailoring the spatial and temporal distribution of electron wavepackets at will.
Building on my strong expertise in the field of electron-light-matter interactions and nanophotonics, we will incorporate the PINEM effect into a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and integrate it with advanced cathodoluminescence (CL) light detection. Using 5 keV electrons and advanced optical metamaterial designs we will amplify the PINEM effect by a factor 1000.
Using spatial light modulation we spatially vary the PINEM light fields which results in wide control over the electron energy spectrum. We create electron-metasurface interactions that stretch, chirp, or split the electron wavepacket, enabling entirely new ultrafast pump-probe detection schemes of optical excitations and relaxations. Using a compact solid-state implementation we perform subsequent PINEM operations on a single electron and perform a full quantum state reconstruction of the electron’s density matrix that represents the interaction. We derive the wavepacket amplitude and phase and reveal dephasing processes in optical excitations.
The new PINEM-SEM-CL technique opens up an entirely new world of electron microscopy applications in integrated optics, nanophotonics, and opto-electronics and will provide detailed insights into fundamental electron-light-matter interactions that have been inaccessible thus far.
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