Crucial for the field of ultrafast electron microscopy is the creation of sub-picosecond, high brightness electron pulses. The use of a blanker to chop the beam that originates from a high brightness Schottky source may provide an attractive alternative to direct pulsed laser illumination of the source. We have recently presented the concept of a laser-triggered ultrafast beam blanker and argued that generation of 100 fs pulses could be possible [Weppelman et al., Ultramicroscopy 184, 8-17 (2017)]. However, a detailed analysis of the influence of a deflection field changing sign on sub-picoseconds time scale on the quality of the resulting electron pulses has so far been lacking. Here, we present such an analysis using time-dependent, three-dimensional numerical simulations to evaluate the time-evolution of deflection fields in and around a micrometers-scale deflector connected to a photo-conductive switch. Further particle tracing through the time-dependent fields allows us to evaluate beam quality parameters such as energy spread and temporal broadening. We show that with a shielded, "tunnel-type" design of the beam blanker limiting the spatial extent of fringe fields outside the blanker, the blanker-induced energy spread can be limited to 0.5 eV. Moreover, our results confirm that it could be possible to bring laser-triggered 100 fs focused electron pulses on the sample using a miniaturized ultrafast beam blanker. This would enable us to resolve ultrafast dynamics using focused electron pulses in an SEM or STEM.
- OA-Fund TU Delft