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Optical gating and streaking of free electrons with sub-optical cycle precision


Hommelhoff,  Peter
Hommelhoff Group, Associated Groups, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;
University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, Department of Physics;

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Kozak, M., McNeur, J., Leedle, K. J., Deng, H., Schoenenberger, N., Ruehl, A., et al. (2017). Optical gating and streaking of free electrons with sub-optical cycle precision. NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 8: 14342. doi:10.1038/ncomms14342.

The temporal resolution of ultrafast electron diffraction and microscopy experiments is currently limited by the available experimental techniques for the generation and characterization of electron bunches with single femtosecond or attosecond durations. Here, we present proof of principle experiments of an optical gating concept for free electrons via direct time-domain visualization of the sub-optical cycle energy and transverse momentum structure imprinted on the electron beam. We demonstrate a temporal resolution of 1.2 +/- 0.3 fs. The scheme is based on the synchronous interaction between electrons and the near-field mode of a dielectric nano-grating excited by a femtosecond laser pulse with an optical period duration of 6.5 fs. The sub-optical cycle resolution demonstrated here is promising for use in laser-driven streak cameras for attosecond temporal characterization of bunched particle beams as well as time-resolved experiments with free-electron beams.