A team of physicists from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich, the University of Regensburg and the University of Konstanz has successfully demonstrated that electron pulses experience a quantum mechanical phase shift through their interaction with light waves in nanophotonic materials. Equipped with ultrashort electron pulses that are compressed in time by means of terahertz radiation, the researchers were able to resolve the oscillations of the electromagnetic near-fields at the optically-excited nanostructures via pump-probe electron diffraction. Ultrafast electron holography and diffraction can therefore resolve the functionality of nanophotonic materials and metamaterials in space and time. The corresponding study has now been published in the latest issue of “Science Advances”.

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