Time-resolved cathodoluminescence microscopy with sub-nanosecond beam blanking for direct evaluation of the local density of states

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    Abstract

    We show cathodoluminescence-based time-resolved electron beam spectroscopy in order to directly probe the spontaneous emission decay rate that is modified by the local density of states in a nanoscale environment. In contrast to dedicated laser-triggered electron-microscopy setups, we use commercial hardware in a standard SEM, which allows us to easily switch from pulsed to continuous operation of the SEM. Electron pulses of 80–90 ps duration are generated by conjugate blanking of a high-brightness electron beam, which allows probing emitters within a large range of decay rates. Moreover, we simultaneously attain a resolution better than λ/10, which ensures details at deep-subwavelength scales can be retrieved. As a proof-of-principle, we employ the pulsed electron beam to spatially measure excited-state lifetime modifications in a phosphor material across the edge of an aluminum half-plane, coated on top of the phosphor. The measured emission dynamics can be directly related to the structure of the sample by recording photon arrival histograms together with the secondary-electron signal. Our results show that time-resolved electron cathodoluminescence spectroscopy is a powerful tool of choice for nanophotonics, within reach of a large audience.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)24760-24772
    Number of pages13
    JournalOptics Express
    Volume24
    Issue number21
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • Cathodoluminescence
    • Luminescence
    • Quantum electrodynamics
    • Microscopy
    • Subwavelength structures
    • nanostructures
    • OA-Fund TU Delft

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