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Optical coherence transfer mediated by free electrons

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Science Advances  30 Apr 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 18, eabf6380
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf6380


We theoretically investigate the quantum-coherence properties of the cathodoluminescence (CL) emission produced by a temporally modulated electron beam. Specifically, we consider the quantum-optical correlations of CL produced by electrons that are previously shaped by a laser field. Our main prediction is the presence of phase correlations between the emitted CL field and the electron-modulating laser, even though the emission intensity and spectral profile are independent of the electron state. In addition, the coherence of the CL field extends to harmonics of the laser frequency. Since electron beams can be focused to below 1 Å, their ability to transfer optical coherence could enable the ultra-precise excitation, manipulation, and spectrally resolved probing of nanoscale quantum systems.

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