We present a new method to create ultrashort electron pulses by integrating a photoconductive switch with an electrostatic deflector. This paper discusses the feasibility of such a system by analytical and numerical calculations. We argue that ultrafast electron pulses can be achieved for micrometer scale dimensions of the blanker, which are feasible with MEMS-based fabrication technology. According to basic models, the design presented in this paper is capable of generating 100 fs electron pulses with spatial resolutions of less than 10 nm. Our concept for an ultrafast beam blanker (UFB) may provide an attractive alternative to perform ultrafast electron microscopy, as it does not require modification of the microscope nor realignment between DC and pulsed mode of operation. Moreover, only low laser pulse energies are required. Due to its small dimensions the UFB can be inserted in the beam line of a commercial microscope via standard entry ports for blankers or variable apertures. The use of a photoconductive switch ensures minimal jitter between laser and electron pulses.
- Beam blankers
- Photoconductive switches
- Scanning electron microscopy (SEM)
- Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)
- Ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM)