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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)