Low repetition-rate, high-resolution femtosecond transmission electron microscopy

David J. Flannigan, Wyatt A. Curtis, Elisah J. Vandenbussche, Yichao Zhang

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8 Scopus citations


The spatial and energy resolutions of state-of-the-art transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) have surpassed 50 pm and 5 meV. However, with respect to the time domain, even the fastest detectors combined with the brightest sources may only be able to reach the microsecond timescale. Thus, conventional methods are incapable of resolving the myriad fundamental ultrafast (i.e., attosecond to picosecond) atomic-scale dynamics. The successful demonstration of femtosecond (fs) laser-based (LB) ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM) nearly 20 years ago provided a means to span this nearly 10-order-of-magnitude temporal gap. While nanometer-picosecond UEM studies of dynamics are now well established, ultrafast Å-scale imaging has gone largely unrealized. Further, while instrument development has rightly been an emphasis, and while new modalities and uses of pulsed-beam TEM continue to emerge, the overall chemical and materials application space has been only modestly explored to date. In this Perspective, we argue that these apparent shortfalls can be attributed to a simple lack of data and detail. We speculate that present work and continued growth of the field will ultimately lead to the realization that Å-scale fs dynamics can indeed be imaged with minimally modified UEM instrumentation and with repetition rates (frep) below-and perhaps even well below-1 MHz. We further argue that the use of low frep, whether for LB UEM or for chopped/bunched beams, significantly expands the accessible application space. This calls for systematically establishing modality-specific limits so that especially promising technologies can be pursued, thus, ultimately facilitating broader adoption as individual instrument capabilities expand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number180903
Pages (from-to)180903
Number of pages1
JournalThe Journal of chemical physics
Issue number18
StatePublished - Nov 14 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award No. DE-SC0018204, the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMR-1654318, the National Science Foundation through the University of Minnesota MRSEC under Award No. DMR-2011401, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1839286. Acknowledgment is made to the donors of the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund for partial support of this research under Award No. 60584-ND10.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Author(s).

MRSEC Support

  • Partial

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  • Journal Article


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