Research ArticleOPTICS

Attosecond metrology in a continuous-beam transmission electron microscope

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Science Advances  11 Nov 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 46, eabb1393
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb1393


Electron microscopy can visualize the structure of complex materials with atomic and subatomic resolution, but investigations of reaction dynamics and light-matter interaction call for time resolution as well, ideally on a level below the oscillation period of light. Here, we report the use of the optical cycles of a continuous-wave laser to bunch the electron beam inside a transmission electron microscope into electron pulses that are shorter than half a cycle of light. The pulses arrive at the target at almost the full average brightness of the electron source and in synchrony to the optical cycles, providing attosecond time resolution of spectroscopic features. The necessary modifications are simple and can turn almost any electron microscope into an attosecond instrument that may be useful for visualizing the inner workings of light-matter interaction on the basis of the atoms and the cycles of light.

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