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Ultrafast coherent manipulation of a free-electron wave function via electron-light quantum interaction.
Vanacore G.M., Garcia de Abajo F.J., Carbone F.
The interaction between light and electrons can be exploited for generating radiation, such as in synchrotrons and FEL, or for controlling electron beams for dynamical investigation of materials, enabling new applications in light-assisted quantum devices and diagnostics at extremely small timescales. Here, we will describe a new method for coherent longitudinal and transverse manipulation of a free-electron wave function. Using appropriately shaped light fields in space and time, we will demonstrate how to modulate the energy, linear momentum, and orbital angular momentum (vorticity) of the electron wave function with sub-fs precision. The experiments have been performed in an ultrafast-TEM, where the energy-momentum exchange resulting from the electron-photon interaction was directly mapped via momentum-resolved ultrafast electron energy-loss spectroscopy. Our approach for longitudinal and transverse electron modulation at the sub-fs timescale would pave the way to achieve unprecedented insights into non-equilibrium phenomena in advanced quantum materials, playing a decisive role in the design and engineering of future quantum photonics and electronics applications.