Design and implementation of a flexible beamline for fs electron diffraction experiments
Ultrafast Electron Diffraction (UED) has been widely used to investigate the structural dynamics of molecules and materials. Femtosecond (fs) electron bunches are used to obtain diffraction images of a specimen upon photo-excitation by a temporally delayed light pulse. The high cross-section of electrons makes it a very flexible tool for the study of light elements, monolayers and surfaces; at the same time, electrons can travel down to few nanometers (nm) and structural information from the bulk can also be retrieved. In this article, we discuss the design and implementation of a flexible beamline for fs electron diffraction experiments in transmission or reflection geometry. By the use of a radiofrequency (RF) compression cavity synchronized to our laser system, in combination with a set of electron optics, we demonstrate that we can control the beam properties in terms of charge per pulse, transverse spot-size on the sample and temporal duration of the bunches. The characterization of the beam is performed via a light-electrons cross-correlation experiment and we demonstrate an overall temporal resolution around 300 fs for bunches containing up to 10(5) electrons at a repetition rate of 20 kHz. (c) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.