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Electron matter optics and the Kapitza -Dirac effect

Daniel L Freimund, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The diffraction of electrons by a standing wave of light was first proposed by Kapitza and Dirac in 1933. We observed this effect for the first time in September 2001 by showing separate electron diffraction peaks. It was first observed for a focused laser beam, where the standing wave of light serves as a thin light crystal. Later, the effect was also observed with an unfocused laser beam, where the standing wave serves as a thick light crystal, where scattering can only occur at the Bragg angle. ^ The theory behind the effect has been formulated within both atomic optics and electron optics communities. It involves the ponderomotive potential that an electron experiences within the electromagnetic field of two counter-propagating laser beams. The derivations of the differential equations given by both communities have identical results with their own benefits when making numerical calculations. These theoretical calculations fit well to our data, which falls between the limits of the diffraction and Bragg regimes. ^ To analyze the data collected in these experiments, the statistical behavior of the arrival of electrons, governed by the Poisson distribution, was taken into account. The Gaussian nature of the laser beam and its consequences on focusing needed to be addressed, along with how far from diffraction limited the laser beam actually was. ^ There may be a possibility of new effects arising from the interaction of electrons and light. The effect is like KDE, but modified to include two counter-propagating lasers of different frequency, the consequence of the longitudinal velocity of the electrons, and the role that the polarization of the laser light plays. ^

Subject Area

Physics, Atomic|Physics, Optics

Recommended Citation

Freimund, Daniel L, "Electron matter optics and the Kapitza -Dirac effect" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3092540.