The TEM (Transmission Electron Microscope) has revolutionized structural biology and materials science. It uses electrons instead of light to examine molecular structures at the atomic scale. In past years, there has been immense interest in integrating electron microscopy with optical excitations. The goal is to control and manipulate the electron beam using light. However, the relatively weak interaction of propagating electrons with photons has posed a significant obstacle.
Researchers have now demonstrated exceptionally effective electron beam modification. The team utilized integrated photonic microresonators to accomplish this task. The combination of electron microscopy with photonics brought forth by the study could be a significant development within Microscopy Market. It offers the potential to combine atomic-scale imaging and coherent spectroscopy in a novel way.
Two laboratories came into an unusual collaboration. They merged the sciences of electron microscopy and integrated photonics, which are generally considered unrelated. With the help of micro-ring resonators, photonic integrated circuits may guide light on a chip with ultra-low losses, increasing in optical fields.
In the team's experiments, an electron beam was directed across the near optical field of a photonic circuit. This allowed the electrons to interact with the amplified light. The electrons' energy that had absorbed or emitted hundreds of photon energies was then measured by the researchers to investigate the interaction.
The photonic chips were constructed so that the speed of light in the micro-ring resonators was the same as the speed of electrons. As a result, the electron-photon interaction is enhanced.
The technology enables substantial electron beam modification. A wave laser continuously provides a few milli-Watts — a power level supplied by a standard laser pointer. The method significantly simplifies and efficiently boosts electron beam optical control. It can be easily applied in a standard transmission electron microscope, making the technique more applicable.
Integrated photonic circuits have made tremendous advancements. They are now proving to be a new component for electron beam manipulation. These circuits are based on low-loss silicon nitride and have made considerable progress. They are intensively driving the progress of many emerging technologies and fundamental science such as quantum computing, telecommunication, and LiDAR. Further, they are now proving to be a new ingredient for electron beam manipulation.
At last, the team added, they expect that their research will lead to a new level of understanding and control of microscopic optical excitations in the future. The scientists intend to expand their work in novel quantum optics and attosecond metrology for free electrons.
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