Journal article

Electron beam dynamics in an ultrafast transmission electron microscope with Wehnelt electrode

High temporal resolution transmission electron microscopy techniques have shown significant progress in recent years. Using photoelectron pulses induced by ultrashort laser pulses on the cathode, these methods can probe ultrafast materials processes and have revealed numerous dynamic phenomena at the nanoscale. Most recently, the technique has been implemented in standard thermionic electron microscopes that provide a flexible platform for studying material's dynamics over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. In this study, the electron pulses in such an ultrafast transmission electron microscope are characterized in detail. The microscope is based on a thermionic gun with a Wehnelt electrode and is operated in a stroboscopic photoelectron mode. It is shown that the Wehnelt bias has a decisive influence on the temporal and energy spread of the picosecond electron pulses. Depending on the shape of the cathode and the cathode-Wehnelt distance, different emission patterns with different pulse parameters are obtained. The energy spread of the pulses is determined by space charge and Boersch effects, given by the number of electrons in a pulse. However, filtering effects due to the chromatic aberrations of the Wehnelt electrode allow the extraction of pulses with narrow energy spreads. The temporal spread is governed by electron trajectories of different length and in different electrostatic potentials. High temporal resolution is obtained by excluding shank emission from the cathode and aberration-induced halos in the emission pattern. By varying the cathode-Wehnelt gap, the Wehnelt bias, and the number of photoelectrons in a pulse, tradeoffs between energy and temporal resolution as well as beam intensity can be made as needed for experiments. Based on the characterization of the electron pulses, the optimal conditions for the operation of ultrafast TEMs with thermionic gun assembly are elaborated. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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