We have analyzed the possibilities of wave front shaping with miniature patterned electron mirrors through the WKB approximation. Based on this, we propose a microscopy scheme that uses two miniature electron mirrors on an auxiliary optical axis that is in parallel with the microscope axis. A design for this microscopy scheme is presented for which the two axes can be spatially separated by as little as 1 mm. We first provide a mathematical relationship between the electric potential and the accumulated phase modulation of the reflected electron wave front using the WKB approximation. Next, we derive the electric field in front of the mirror, as a function of a topographic or pixel wise excited mirror pattern. With this, we can relate the effect of a mirror pattern onto the near-field phase, or far field intensity distribution and use this to provide a first optical insight into the functioning of the patterned mirror. The equations can only be applied numerically, for which we provide a description of the relevant numerical methods. Finally, these methods are applied to find mirror patterns for controlled beam diffraction efficiency, beam mode conversion, and an arbitrary phase and amplitude distribution. The successful realization of the proposed methods would enable arbitrary shaping of the wave front without electron–matter interaction, and hence we coin the term virtual phase plate for this design. The design may also enable the experimental realization of a Mach–Zehnder interferometer for electrons, as well as interaction-free measurements of radiation sensitive specimen.
- Beam shaping
- Electron mirrors
- Electron wave front modulation
- WKB approximation