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We determine the instrument response of an ultrafast electron microscope equipped with a conventional thermionic electron gun and absent modifications beyond the optical ports. Using flat, graphite-encircled LaB6 cathodes, we image space-charge effects as a function of photoelectron-packet population and find that an applied Wehnelt bias has a negligible effect on the threshold levels (>103 electrons per pulse) but does appear to suppress blurring at the upper limits (∼105 electrons). Using plasma lensing, we determine the instrument-response time for 700-fs laser pulses and find that single-electron packets are laser limited (1 ps), while broadening occurs well below the space-charge limit.
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