Date of this Version
STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS 4, 044022 (2017)
We have constructed an experimental setup for gas phase electron diffraction with femtosecond resolution and a high average beam current. While gas electron diffraction has been successful at determining molecular structures, it has been a challenge to reach femtosecond resolution while maintaining sufficient beam current to retrieve structures with high spatial resolution. The main challenges are the Coulomb force that leads to broadening of the electron pulses and the temporal blurring that results from the velocity mismatch between the laser and electron pulses as they traverse the sample. We present here a device that uses pulse compression to overcome the Coulomb broadening and deliver femtosecond electron pulses on a gas target. The velocity mismatch can be compensated using laser pulses with a tilted intensity front to excite the sample. The temporal resolution of the setup was determined with a streak camera to be better than 400 fs for pulses with up to half a million electrons and a kinetic energy of 90 keV. The high charge per pulse, combined with a repetition rate of 5 kHz, results in an average beam current that is between one and two orders of magnitude higher than previously demonstrated.