Electron, heal thyself! Making curved electron beams go around barriers

Electron beams, like light, spread out when they pass through an opening. Even highly focused beams such as lasers spread over large distances, a result of the wave character of light. However, by manipulating the wave form near its source, researchers can create something known as an Airy beam, which doesn’t disperse—and in fact follows a curved path. A new experiment has created Airy beams using electrons, a significant step toward highly controllable electron beams. As a bonus, these beams can even “self-heal” after passing by a barrier.

Electrons also experience diffraction and interference, which is the source of the famous quantum double-slit experiment. In the new experiment, the researchers manipulated the wave function of an electron beam by sending it through a specific holographic pattern. They focused the beam using a magnetic field that acted much like a lens, producing a distinctive triangular bundle of electron beams. Each bundle followed a curved path, which the researchers determined by measuring the electron patterns at various distances from the hologram. [Read more…]

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