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Opt Express. 2016 Oct 17;24(21):24760-24772. doi: 10.1364/OE.24.024760.

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


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.


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