Transient lensing from a photoemitted electron gas imaged by ultrafast electron microscopy

Omid Zandi, Allan E. Sykes, Ryan D. Cornelius, Francis M. Alcorn, Brandon S. Zerbe, Phillip M. Duxbury, Bryan W. Reed, Renske M. van der Veen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding and controlling ultrafast charge carrier dynamics is of fundamental importance in diverse fields of (quantum) science and technology. Here, we create a three-dimensional hot electron gas through two-photon photoemission from a copper surface in vacuum. We employ an ultrafast electron microscope to record movies of the subsequent electron dynamics on the picosecond-nanosecond time scale. After a prompt Coulomb explosion, the subsequent dynamics is characterized by a rapid oblate-to-prolate shape transformation of the electron gas, and periodic and long-lived electron cyclotron oscillations inside the magnetic field of the objective lens. In this regime, the collective behavior of the oscillating electrons causes a transient, mean-field lensing effect and pronounced distortions in the images. We derive an analytical expression for the time-dependent focal length of the electron-gas lens, and perform numerical electron dynamics and probe image simulations to determine the role of Coulomb self-fields and image charges. This work inspires the visualization of cyclotron dynamics inside two-dimensional electron-gas materials and enables the elucidation of electron/plasma dynamics and properties that could benefit the development of high-brightness electron and X-ray sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3001
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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